Velika Gospa (Assumption of Mary)

Velika Gospa in Sinj
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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.

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Velika Gospa celebration in Sinj

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
  • Policemen
  • Members of the Croatian Army
  • Firemen
  • 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
  • Bandsmen,
  • Girls in folk costumes
  • Mayors
  • 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.

Celebration in other Croatian cities

In other Croatian cities, Velika Gospa is celebrated by:

  • Pilgrimages to Mary’s shrines
  • Holy masses
  • Praying the rosary

Notable Mary’s shrines in Croatia

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)

Mary’s shrines notable among Croats outside of Croatia

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


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.

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2 thoughts on “Velika Gospa (Assumption of Mary)

  1. Antony
    April 17, 2018 @ 7:51 pm

    Hello Sarah, my family will be visiting Croatia next month and Sinj is on our itinerary. Being a Catholic and we would like to attend the Sunday Holy Mass at the Sanctuary of the Miraculous Lady of Sinj. Just wonder if you could advise me of their Sunday Mass schedule to plan our trip. Thanks.


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