|The scholarly educational film Our Lady of the Stone Gate in Zagreb, prepared by Dr. Hrvojka Mihanović Salopek, shows the historical veneration of the Mother of God in Zagreb and presents a cultural travelogue through the oldest and most beautiful shrines in Zagreb. The film presents valuable images of Our Lady, as well as statues stored in Zagreb museums. Special attention is paid to rare books and manuscripts preserved in the Metropolitan Library of the Archdiocese of Zagreb, National and University Library and the Museum of the City of Zagreb and to the recitation of old verses.|
Our Lady of the Stone Gate in Zagreb
The scholarly educational film Our Lady of the Stone Gate in Zagreb shows the historical veneration of the Mother of God in Zagreb and presents a cultural travelogue through the oldest and most beautiful shrines in Zagreb:
the Church of Our Lady of Remete, the Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Čučerje, the Chapel of Our Lady of the Angels in Markuševec, the Chapel of Our Lady of Sljeme, Queen of the Croatians, the Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Dolac, Zagreb, the Church of St. Francis of Assisi in Zagreb, the Church of St. Mark, St. Catherine's Church, Zagreb, the Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows, the Church of St. John the Baptist, the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Stenjevec, Zagreb, the Church of St. Barbara, Vrapče, Zagreb, the Church of Queen of the Holy Rosary, the Church of the Assumption of
The film presents valuable images of Our Lady, as well as statues stored in Zagreb museums (Zagreb City Museum, Museum of Arts and Crafts, Strossmayer Gallery of Old Masters, Mimara Museum and others). Special attention is paid to rare books and manuscripts preserved in the Metropolitan Library of the Archdiocese of Zagreb, National and University Library (NSK) and the Museum of the City of Zagreb and to the recitation of old verses. We also get to know the sacred musical heritage in the interpretation of Zagreb musicians and church choirs. This film with a concise cross-section of the Marian heritage of Zagreb was made after the earthquake in March 2020, and at the same time it is an incentive for institutions and the cultural public to all work together for a thorough restoration of damaged cultural monuments.
Our Lady of the Stone Gate in Zagreb (Marian Heritage of Zagreb) 12th film within the project "Digital recording of Croatian Mariological Heritage"
Under the auspices of the:
Production: Center for Culture Novi Zagreb, 2020.
Producer: Branko Marić, director of the Center for Culture Novi Zagreb
Collaborative cooperation: Museum of the City of Zagreb, museum advisor Vinko Ivić, acting director of MGZ (Museum of the City of Zagreb)
The film was made with the support of the City of Zagreb and
Archdiocese of Zagreb
Our Lady of the Stone Gate in Zagreb
(The most beautiful Marian churches in Zagreb)
Above the old Grič hill
At the bottom of the slopes in the valley of the Mount Medvednica, is a location of one of the oldest Marian shrines in Zagreb - the Church of Our Lady of Remete. This church was founded in the 13th century by the Paulines, and today, the monastery is run by the Carmelites. The very name of the place is related to the Paulines - hermits, it comes from the Latin word eremus, which means desert. Tradition holds that the monastery was founded by Pauline Isquirin (Iskvirin), and a written record of the donation of the monastery property dates from 1288. As the monastery was once far from old city of Zagreb, it was destroyed several times in Ottoman incursions, most notably in 1591, when the monastery was set on fire and the Paulines were killed. With the efforts of Bishop Martin Borković, who was himself a Pauline, the church and the Pauline monastery were renovated in 1646. The Croatian Parliament declared the Mother of God of Remete to be the most faithful advocate of Croatia - 'Fidelissima Advocata Croatiae.'
Many famous Paulines, great cultural figures, stayed in the Remete monastery, such as:
He also wrote Anathema Marianum, a book on Marian votive offerings. Many miraculous intercessions were painted by Ivan Ranger and his students in 1745. He was the most famous Baroque Pauline painter of northern Croatia. Once all the walls of the shrine were painted with Ranger frescoes, but the paintings were destroyed in the earthquake of 1880, and in the most recent one in 2020.
Today, restorers are trying to save some of the frescoes. In front of the shrine is a pillar with a statue of Simeon Stilita, a hermit who lived at the top of the pillar. There is a baroque statue of the Mother of God in the park. Over the centuries, the shrine has become a favorite place of pilgrimage for the people of Zagreb, and the Jesuit, Lovro Grizogon, writes in the Latin work Mundus Marianus: 'Above the others, the temple that the people call St. Mary in Remete, shines with the glory of miracles.' At the beginning of the 18th century, the benefactor Ivan Znika had a multicolored marble main altar built by the local Paulines Tomo Jurjević and Pavao Belina. In the center of the altar is a Gothic statue of Mary with a child. On the side of the altar stand Pauline saints: Paul the Hermit and Anthony the Anchorite. Today, the Shrine of Remete is an oasis of prayer and the home of our Merciful Healer.
On the eastern slopes of Medvednica there is a hidden baroque pearl of Marian devotion - the Church of the Mother of God in Čučerje. Čučerje was first mentioned in 1201 as the property of the Zagreb diocese, which was confirmed by King Emerik. The Church of Mary is mentioned in detail in 1334 in the list of parishes of the Zagreb diocese. During the time of Bishop Juraj Branjug, the church was expanded in the Baroque style in 1728, and its tower is 40 meters high. Four valuable baroque side altars and a pulpit date from that time. The main altar was destroyed in an earthquake in 1880, and a new one was erected in its place in 1908, dominated by a statue of Mary with a scepter and Jesus in her arms. Next to the side altars is an older figure of Mary. This church has long been known as a place of pilgrimage, and many believers prefer to walk through Čučerje on a pilgrimage along the mountain path to Marija Bistrica. On the occasion of the 790th anniversary of the first mention of Čučerje and the church, the locals erected a gilded bronze statue of Our Lady in the square in front of the parish court. Although the 2020 earthquake left its scars, the valuable Baroque altars remained undamaged. They pass on the beauty of Marian devotion to future generations.
Within the slopes of Medvednica there is another very old pilgrimage station. Not far from the baroque church of St. Simon and Jude is a chapel of the Mother of God of Angels in Markuševec. It is a place of pilgrimage devotion and respite on the way from the center of Zagreb to Remete. It is mentioned in records from 1736. The vault of the nave is painted with Franger-style frescoes depicting the joyous mysteries of the rosary. On the altar from 1753 there is a Gothic statue of Our Lady from the 15th century. She holds Jesus in one hand and grapes in the other. That is why the people call her Our Lady of Wine and gladly bring her wine for blessing.
On the slopes of Sljeme is the church of St. Michael in Gračani, which is mentioned in 1622, and the high tower dates from 1750. On its left altar there is a protective figure of Our Lady depicted as Refugium peccatorum - the refuge of sinners. On the ceiling frescoes of seraphim surround the Queen of Heaven.
Zagreb's Mountain (Medvednica) is a favorite ski resort and picnic area for many mountaineers. With its peak Sljeme 1035 meters high, it attracts citizens to a forest break. It was at the instigation of mountaineers in 1912 that the idea of building a chapel on Sljeme arose. Members of the Congregation of Mary from the Zagreb Basilica of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus began with their contributions the construction of a chapel in 1928, for which the city of Zagreb donated land. The church is called the Mother of God of Sljeme - Queen of the Croatians and was completed in 1932. On its ceiling in the middle is the Virgin Mary with Jesus, and next to them are the old coats of arms of Croatia, Slavonia, Dalmatia, old Bosnia and Istria and the coats of arms of old Croatian cities. In the lush greenery, the church forms an oasis of peace and Marian devotion.
"To the most beautiful Mother that heaven has created
From the slopes of Medvednica we head to the very center of Zagreb in the hustle and bustle of the city streets. St. Mary at Dolac, Zagreb is first mentioned in the Middle Ages. . From 1313 there was the first chapel held by the Cistercian order until 1510. Today's church was expanded and baroqued in the middle of the 18th century. The main altar of Francesco Robbe from 1768 is dedicated to the Mother of God. The valuable pulpit from 1779 is decorated with reliefs. The figure of Mary also appears on the side altars: St. Anna, Joachim and little Mary, Gift of the Three Kings, the Pieta, and an altar depicting the death of St. Joseph and also on the stained glass. The church is in the very center of the city between the Dolac market and Tkalčićeva street, so it has two entrances. Its interior is visited by a number of believers, but also tourists, walking passers-by who are looking for a moment of peace and spiritual concentration in the hustle and bustle of the city.
"Like a Mother to a child, You lead us to Salvation
As we head from Tkalčićeva Street towards Kaptol, we come across the church of St. Francis of Assisi and Franciscan monastery. The Virgin Mary is the patron saint of the Franciscans and Regina ordinis. Among the portraits of the Franciscans in the monastery, the images of Our Lady stand out. The chapel of St. Francis stands out with its distinctive baroque beauty which shows, according to legend, the arrival of St. Francis of Assisi in Zagreb.
Many of the most beautiful churches in Zagreb have an altar or paintings dedicated to the Mother of God, and Our Lady's depictions adorn the facades of houses. In the Upper Town, among the most beautiful baroque buildings is the St. Catherine's church. On several altars we also find artistic depictions of the Mother of God. The church was built by the Jesuits from 1620 to 1632. The vaults and walls are richly decorated with stucco from 1729. The area of today's Klović Palace was once a Jesuit monastery, where the first Zagreb faculty was founded in 1669 - the Jesuit Academy with the privileges of the University of Vienna.
The learned Jesuit Baltazar Milovec, in his Kajkavian prayer book Dvoidušni kinč from 1661, praised the strength of Madonna as a human advocate:
"In the sky you open the door,
Romanesque elements on the front of the portal testify that the church of St. Mark is among the oldest sacral buildings in Zagreb. It is mentioned in 1261, and it became the parish church of old Gradec in the 14th century. Its roof with the coats of arms of Zagreb and the Triune Kingdom of Croatia is a symbol of Croatian independence. Here Ivan Meštrović made
Our Lady with Jesus in the form of a Croatian woman from the people, and on the other side altar is Meštrović's Pieta. Meštrović's baptistery with the central scene of the Nativity is in the chapel of St. Mark. The frescoes in the church and the sacristy were painted by Jozo Kljaković.
In the old Nova Ves street we can see a characteristic example of 18th century Zagreb's architecture - a small, lovely chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows erected in 1763. Its Rococo illusionist interior decoration was painted by Anton Lerchinger. In the extension of Nova Ves street is the baroque-classicist church of St. John the Baptist. It was built in the 18th century on the site of a damaged Gothic church from the 14th century. Marble baroque altars, the work of the Rijeka sculptor Sebastijan Petruzzi, were transferred here from the Cathedral in 1884. Mary's figure appears on stained glass and paintings. On the left, you enter a smaller chapel, which was meticulously painted by Anton Lerchinger, presenting the thesis of the Catholic belief.
On a hill above the former Zagreb stream Medveščak is the baroque church of St. Francis Xavier. It was built in the middle of the 18th century for Bishop Juraj Branjug on the site of a smaller Jesuit chapel. A harmonious green alley with the Way of the Cross and inscription from Croatian history lead to the shrine. Monastery of St. Francis Xavier is the main monastery of the Province of the Glagolitic Franciscans of the Third Order Regular. Their library preserves the rich Croatian Glagolitic heritage. Among the rarities is a copy of the Glagolitic First Print from 1483. In the church on the left side altar is the figure of Mary. We head west of the city, where the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Stenjevec, also known as the shrine of Our Lady of Drnovečka, built on the site of a Roman settlement and then on an old Croatian cemetery. Its construction is first mentioned in 1257. The construction of the baroque church began in 1758. The shrine is known for the old Gothic statue of Our Lady from the 15th century. The pastor of the nearby Stenjevac hospital, Ante Jagar, sang to the Mother of God:
'The sky hides you with a mysterious veil,
In the area of the upper Vrapče is the church of St. Barbara built by the Zagreb canon Ivan Znika in 1703. In its playful baroque interior we find several depictions of Our Lady: the altar of the Immaculate, the altar of Our Lady's heavenly coronation, and the Pieta.
The "curia nobilitaris Brezovica" as the writer Šandor Ksaver Đalski calls it, is located on the southern approach to Zagreb. Near the castle is a chapel, while in the center of the town rise the slender towers of the Church of the Assumption of Mary. The Zagreb canon Ivan Arhiđakon mentions the parish of Brezovica in the census of 1334. With the efforts of the patron of the parish - the noble family Drašković, the present church was built in 1756. The main altar of Mary and the pulpit reflect the art of Baroque sculpture, and were made by the sculptor Franjo Straub in 1762.
Many of very old statues of Mary adorn Zagreb's churches. In the old suburb of Resnik, a legend has been preserved about an old statue of Our Lady, which the river Sava flooded on the shores of the settlement of Resnik in the 12th century. Even today, Marian devotion is alive in the parish of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Resnik.
Numerous paintings or statues of Our Lady from the former older churches of Zagreb are today preserved in Zagreb museums.
The Museum of the City of Zagreb is located next to a number of historic palaces in Opatička Street. The City Museum keeps Kaptol seals and documents, as well as the golden bull of Gradec from 1242, which confirms the privileges of a free royal city to Zagreb. The museum preserves a painting that depicts the figure of the first Zagreb bishop Duh, and there is also Kazula, a liturgical scarf, from the 11th century from the time of the founding of the Zagreb diocese. The City Museum has preserved the coat of arms of Kaptol with the image of Our Lady, portraits of Zagreb bishops, statues from the old Zagreb Cathedral. Among them we find the figure of the Mother of God and the angel Gabriel in the scene of the Annunciation. The city museum exhibits baroque statues from the church of St. Mark and flags with the figures of the supplicants under Our Lady's mantle. In a separate room, the Marian devotion is preserved, from the former Zagreb Ursuline monastery from 1646 where the Ursuline nuns had the first private women's school. Among the exhibits is a graphics of the Virgin Mary of the Poor Clares of Zagreb from 1770, an oven with the image of Our Lady, and numerous books from the period of the Catholic Renewal, many with a Marian theme.
The Museum of Arts and Crafts is located near the Croatian National Theatre building in Zagreb. This popular Zagreb museum also preserves very refined works of art dedicated to the Mother of God.
Not far from the theatre is the Mimara Museum, where we also find notable works with the figure of the Madonna.
The famous Strossmayer Gallery, founded by Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer with his initial donation, is located in the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (HAZU) Palace on Zrinjevac square. Within this collection, the images of the Mother of God stand out in number and beauty.
On Marulić square, next to the Croatian State Archives, there is the Metropolitana Archdiocese of Zagreb Library with an impressive collection of 60,000 volumes. Among them are manuscripts, incunabula and rare books from the Middle Ages onwards. All these works of art vividly testify to the centuries-old cult of Marian devotion in the Croatian capital.
In addition to the old, Zagreb's newer shrines also have a strong Marian orientation. The Archbishop of Zagreb, Juraj Haulik, invited the Sisters of Charity of today's Province of the Immaculate Conception of Mary to Zagreb and built a monastery for them in 1845. With the aim of educating poor girls, the sisters opened a women's primary school in 1845, and then - today's clinical hospital "Sisters of Mercy." In their church of St. Vinko, paintings of Our Lady are especially revered. The Sisters of Charity also run the beautiful Marija's Palace in Lužnica near Zagreb.
As early as the 14th century, Bishop Augustin Kažotić brought the Dominicans to Zagreb, and they did not return to the city until 1925. At that time, the construction of the Dominican Church of the Queen of the Holy Rosary began. The statue of the Mother of God is the work of the academic sculptor Marija Ujević.
The parish of Our Lady of Help was founded in Zagreb in 1937, and was opened by the blessed Cardinal Stepinac. The parish and the monastery are run by Salesians. The statue of Our Lady from 1931 is a gift from Bishop Felix Guerre of Cuba. Allegorical stained glass windows stand out with their poetic beauty in the church.
The city of Zagreb was hit by an earthquake on March 22, 2020. The Jesuit neo-baroque Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus - the favorite church of Zagreb's academic youth, suffered the most. It was consecrated in 1902. The tomb of Blessed Ivan Merz is in the Basilica, where he regularly attended Mass.
Prof. dr. sc. Božidar Nagy, S.J.:
'His devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary gradually developed after his pilgrimage to Lourdes when Merz made his first pilgrimage as a student from Paris with his colleagues and there he experienced a strong deepening of his devotion to the Blessed Virgin. When we add up everything he wrote, said and practiced in devotion to Her, we can say that he is an outstanding example for every Christian and especially for Catholic intellectuals who can have in him a wonderful example of the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary."
In addition to the basilica, the Jesuits also manage the parish of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, founded in 1961 on the Jordanovac hill. Next to it are Radio Marija and the Faculty of Philosophy and Theology of the Society of Jesus.
The Church of the Holy Mother of Freedom, built after the Homeland War 1991-1995 in which many defenders with a rosary around their necks went to defend freedom, reminds us of the sanctity of sacrifice and deserved victory.
By traveling through all these shrines, we witness the tradition as well as the present of the worship of the Mother of God in Zagreb.
It is especially beautiful in our capital during the Advent period of the year, when the whole of Zagreb comes to life and awaits the arrival of Christmas in a joyful atmosphere. Still, one shrine is a recognizable sign of the city. The Zagreb Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the spiritual center of Zagreb and the shrine of the whole of Croatia. On Kaptol, under its roof rest many Croatian greats: Ban Toma Erdoedy, Petar Zrinski and Fran Krsto Frankopan, Ban Petar Berislavić and Vrana prior Ivan Paližna. Many people pray on the grave of Blessed Alojzije Stepinac. Antun Gustav Matoš encouraged the national spirit with his verses:
'In the cathedral, when the nights are hard,
The Zagreb diocese was founded by King Ladislav in 1094, when the first Romanesque construction of the cathedral began. The cathedral was attacked in the Middle Ages by the Tatars, destroyed by fires and earthquakes, but it always returned in renewed attire, because bishops, priests and many believers have always endowed and rebuilt it. At first it was dedicated to the holy kings Stephen and Ladislav, and after the consecration of the main altar in 1833 it was dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Above the seat of the Čazma's canons the oldest fresco of Our Lady - Virgo orans - was found, depicting the Annunciation from the 13th century. After the earthquake of 1880, the cathedral was given its neo-Gothic appearance according to the designs of Friedrich Schmidt, and the works were performed by Herman Bolle.
The entrance portal is the work of sculptor Robert Frangeš Mihanović. On the main altar of the cathedral is a replica of the votive statue of the Mother of God of Marija Bistrica. Behind the central altar is a stained glass window with a scene of the Assumption of Mary and other scenes. On the relief of the main altar, all segments of society worship the Mother of God. The first baroque marble altar from the entrance in the right nave is dedicated to Mary the Queen. On it is a picture of Our Lady that remained intact in the fire. Also in the apse of the south nave is the second altar of the Virgin built according to Bolle's design. Next to the tower in the south nave is the Calvary, and above it is an Glagolitic inscription commemorating the seventh century and the 1300 years of the connection between the Croatians and the Holy See. The oldest part of the Cathedral is the chapel of St. Stephen from the 12th century, and is connected to the sacristy. The altar features the Crucifixion from Duerer's school with the image of Our Lady of Sorrows. Valuable historical works of art are also preserved in the Cathedral Treasury. The cathedral is surrounded by old towers, inside which is the Archbishop's Palace.
Mons. dr. sc. Ivan Šaško, Auxiliary Bishop of Zagreb:
"When discussing the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, it is especially important to experience popular piety, and when popular piety is mentioned, we think that the whole relationship of the faithful to the Blessed Virgin Mary is realized. However, popular piety is a manifestation of the faith of the Church, in fact, it is a gift that believers carry within themselves and which is certainly widely and deeply present in the entire religious community and which has marked the identity of the Croatian believers and thus of the whole nation. There is also a special institute, the Croatian Mariological Institute of the Catholic Faculty of Theology at the University of Zagreb, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary next year. In that sense, we can say that although this Institute is in Zagreb, it concerns the whole of Croatia, Croatian homeland, but also all our religious communities around the world. It has its own special mission to study in a scholarly and theological way various topics concerning theology either in the past or in the present, and in this respect it is a valuable help to understand that popular piety and theology are intimately connected. We call and invoke the Blessed Virgin Mary in litanies as the Gate of Heaven. The One that keeps the Gate wide open permanently.'
An earthquake hit Zagreb in March 2020, showing us that we are fragile and transient. Maybe it is a message to us that we need to change, turn to humanity and piety.
Another shrine of the Mother of God in Zagreb is a great favorite. At the entrance to Gradec, which had been the civic and guild center of old Zagreb for centuries, is the Stone Gate. The tower with a roof and a mace is the seat of the Society of the Croatian Dragon Brothers who watch over the Croatian cultural heritage. In the darkened passage of the city gate is a small shrine of the Mother of God of the Stone Gate - the guardian of the city. It stands inside a baroque fence donated by Zagreb craftsman Ivan Juraj Kort. The history of the Upper Town was immortalized by August Šenoa in his novel Zlatarevo zlato (Goldsmith's Gold. Numerous citizens light candles here, express their prayers to the Mother of God and place votive tablets as a sign of gratitude. And how did that come about? The Stone Gate was first mentioned in history in 1426, and the image of Mary the Queen with the Child in her arms has always been worshiped there.
"Oh beautiful, the good protector of the Zagreb-city!
Cardinal Franjo Kuharić, the Archbishop of Zagreb, proclaimed Our Lady of the Stone Gate the patron saint of the city of Zagreb on May 31, 1991. Every year on that day a procession of believers from the cathedral returns the painting of Our Lady to its permanent place under the auspices of the Stone Gate. In earthquakes, wars, diseases and all the difficult and joyful moments of life, Our Lady of the Stone Gate as a gatekeeper and guardian watches over the people of Zagreb. Our Lady of Stone Gate also creates that symbolic door, which helps to lead a person to the heavenly dimension.