Velika Gospa is a national holiday that celebrates the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is celebrated on August 15 annually in Croatia.
In celebration, believers make a pilgrimage to many of Mary’s shrines. According to Catholic theology, Mary is embedded in heaven with soul and body.
On November 1, 1950, Pope Pius XII declared the doctrine of Mary’s ascension to heaven. It is preceded by a long tradition that is old as Christianity itself.
This holiday is celebrated in a large number of countries, most notably in Europe and South America. Many processions and festivals are held.
In this post, we cover:
- Velika Gospa celebration in Sinj
- Celebration in other Croatian cities
The facts are these…
Sinj (view map), a town in rural Dalmatia, is the site of one of the most important sanctuaries of the Blessed Virgin Mary where celebrations are held for Velika Gospa. On August 15, a great celebration for the Feast of Assumption is held and it is a notable national holiday in Sinj. [Read: National holidays of Croatia]
A vast multitude of pilgrims come to Sinj to bow in silent prayer and to light a candle before a painting of the Madonna. Many people from across Dalmatia walk barefoot or just on foot to Sinj.
The first mass is celebrated at 4:00 in the morning. At 9:30, accompanied by the solemn ringing of bells and the sound of fanfare, the Painting of the Miraculous Madonna of Sinj is taken out of the Church to be brought into a procession through the streets of Sinj. It is a great honor to carry the painting on one’s shoulders.
The painting may be carried by:
- Alkari [Read: Sinjska alka – Croatia’s annual knightly competition in Sinj]
- Alka squires
- Members of the Croatian Army
- Members of the Association of Croatian volunteer combatants
- Members of the Association of Homeland War veterans and volunteers
- Members of civil associations
- Nuns and Franciscans
- Girls in folk costumes
- Benefactors of the Sanctuary of the Madonna of Sinj.
Cannon balls called “mačkule” are fired from the Old Town fortress, thus indicating the benediction place. The people of Sinj sprinkle flower petals from the windows on Madonna’s path.
Accompanied by the prayers of the rosary and liturgical songs worshiping the Madonna, the painting is brought back to the square in front of the church where the service is celebrated. Feast of Assumption is further celebrated as the Day of the Town of Sinj.
In other Croatian cities, Velika Gospa is celebrated by:
- Pilgrimages to Mary’s shrines
- Holy masses
- Praying the rosary
Here is a list of notable Mary’s shrines in Croatia:
- Crkva Majke Božje Remetske in Remete, Zagreb (view map)
- Svetište Gospe Sinjske in Sinj (view map)
- Svetište Gospe od Zečeva in Nin (view map)
- Svetište Majke Božje Aljmaške in Aljmaš (view map)
- Svetište Majke Božje Bistričke in Marija Bistrica (view map)
- Svetište Majke Božje Loretske in Arbanasi near Zadar (view map)
- Svetište Majke Božje Trsatske at Trsat, Rijeka (view map)
Here is a list of Mary’s shrines outside of Croatia notable for Croats outside of Croatia:
- Crkva Uznesenja Blažene Djevice Marije in Široki Brijeg, Bosnia and Herzegovina (view map)
- Svetište Gospe Olovske in Olovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (view map)
- Svetište Gospe od Kondžila in Komušina Gornja, Bosnia and Herzegovina (view map)
- Svetište Kraljice mira in Međugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina (view map)
- Svetište Crne Gospe in Subotica, Serbia (view map)
- Svetište Gospe Tekijske in Petrovaradin, Srijem, Serbia (view map)
- Gospa od Škrpjela in Boka kotorska, Montenegro (view map)
- Svetište Gospe Letničke in Letnici, Kosovo (view map)
Do you celebrate Velika Gospa? Where do you come from?
View other national holidays
- All Saint’s Day (Dan svih svetih)
- Anti-Fascist Struggle Day (Dan antifašističke borbe)
- Corpus Christi (Tijelovo)
- Day of Remembering the Victims of Croatia War of Independence and Vukovar and Škabrnja
- Easter (Uskrs)
- Epiphany (Bogojavljenje, Sveta tri kralja)
- Labor day (Međunarodni praznik rada)
- Statehood Day (Dan državnosti)
- Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day (Dan pobjede i domovinske zahvalnosti)
Please note: All information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal advice in any form. For legal advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. We can recommend one if you contact us.