Croatian National Shrine of Saint Mary of Marija Bistrica

Marija Bistrica, the most known Croatian shrine of St. Mary, situated on the northern slopes of Medvednica some 40 km northeast of Croatia's capital Zagreb, has been the central place of worship of the Croatian people for centuries. What is Lourdes to the French, Fatima to the Portuguese, Loretto to the Italians, Czestochowa to the Poles, Mariazell to the Austrians that is the picturesque Marija Bistrica to the Croatian people.

The Shrine of St. Mary of Bistrica had and still has an important role in the Marian geography of the Croatian people. For centuries, pilgrims from all over Croatia and abroad as well as individuals coming in silence of personal pilgrimage have been coming to Marija Bistrica seeking and finding inner peace.

In this Croatian Marian shrine and parish fête site, the miraculous statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary with the infant Jesus is the greatest sacred object of the Croatian people. For centuries millions of pilgrims have been kneeling before it, praying, and the heavenly Mother helped them and answered their prayers.

The statue which had been hidden several times throughout its history from the impendent dangers was found for the last time in July 1684 and placed at the altar. Pilgrimages to this shrine began from this moment on. Many answered prayers dating from 1688 to the present day have been written down which show the great love and fidelity of the people for Mary, Mother of God.

The shrine in Marija Bistrica became the national shrine in 1715, when the Croatian parliament built a big votive altar, thus approving the devotion of the Croatian people to Saint Mary of Marija Bistrica.

As Marian devotions grew and many prayers got answered by seeking the intercession of  Saint Mary of Bistrica, the shrine's church became tight and too small so Bistrica's parish priest Juraj (George) Žerjavić (1875 - 1911) had the church and the parish house with arcades extended and reconstructed following the designs of architect Friedrich von Schmidt and his student Hermann Bollé. The new church was built in Neo-Renaissance style.

On December 4, 1923, Pope Pius XI (1922-1939) granted the shrine of St. Mary of Bistrica status of a minor basilica.

On August 15, 1971, Marija marked its first large celebration when the XIII International Marian Congress was held there. That year the bishops proclaimed the shrine Croatian national shrine of Saint Mary of Bistrica.

However, the Croatian church marked its biggest historical, ecclesiastic, and national event when Pope John Paul II visited Marija Bistrica and beatified the Archbishop of Zagreb Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac in October 1998.

Holy Father John Paul II confirmed it by saying: ‘I have wanted to come to the well-known shrine of Mary of Bistrica for a long time. Providence wished for it to be on the occasion of the beatification of Cardinal Stepinac.’

Stations of the Cross
The idea for the Stations of the Cross in Marija Bistrica came from Archbishop Antun Bauer and his Coadjutor Blessed Alojzije Stepinac as they were observing the Stations of the Cross in Jasna Gora during the Eucharistic Congress in Czestochowa in 1935.

In 1943 the first four stations were carved in Italy in actual size from carrara marble.

In 1972 the Archbishop of Zagreb Franjo Kuharić founded the archdiocesan committee for building the parish fetê site. In the years to come new stations were added to the Stations of the Cross, all works of our well-known academic sculptors: Kruno Bošnjak (5th station), Ante Orlić in collaboration with Marija Ujević (13th station), Stanko Jančić (7th, 9th, 11th and 15th station), Ante Orlić (10th, 12th, and 14th station), Josip Poljan (6th station) and Ante Starčević (8th station).

Today the most important pilgrimages to Marija Bistrica even have their traditional names: Duhovsko (pilgrimage on the Feast of the Pentecost), votive pilgrimage of the city of Varaždin, votive pilgrimage of the city of Zagreb, Margaretsko (pilgrimage on the Feast of St. Margaret), Aninsko (pilgrimage on the Feast of St. Anne), Preobraženja Gospodinova (pilgrimage on the Feast of the Transfiguration), Velikogospojinsko (pilgrimage on the Feast of the Assumption of Mary), Bartolovsko (pilgrimage on the Feast of St. Bartholomew), Male Gospe (Pilgrimage on the Feast of the Nativity of Mary) and Zahvalnica (pilgrimage of gratitude).

Five pilgrim routes lead to Marija Bistrica and the hospitable inhabitants of Marija Bistrica take care of all pilgrims’ comfort and safety.

Religious holidays - parish fête - are a reflection of the traditional customs of Hrvatsko zagorje.
Liturgical service schedule:

On weekdays at 10.30 AM and 6 PM.
On Saturdays at 11 AM and 6 PM.
On Sundays and feasts at 7.30, 9, 11 AM, and 4 PM.

Confession - before mass

Hrvatsko nacionalno svetište Majke Božje Bistričke (Croatian National Shrine of Saint Mary of Marija Bistrica)
Trg pape Ivana Pavla II. 32, 49246 Marija Bistrica
Phone: + 385 49 469 156
E-mail: svetiste.mbb@gmail.com
Official website: www.svetiste-mbb.hr

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