Assumption of Mary in Croatia – Velika Gospa

Church of St. Mark in Zagreb, Croatia
Church of St. Mark in Zagreb, Croatia

Velika Gospa (Assumption of Mary) is a Croatian national holiday that celebrates the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In Croatia, it is annually marked on August 15.

Believers pilgrimage to many of Mary’s shrines during Velika Gospa’s celebration. 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 lot of countries, most notably in Europe and South America, where many processions and festivals are held.

In this post, we cover:

The facts are these…

Velika Gospa celebration in Sinj, Croatia

Sinj (view map), a town in rural Dalmatia in Croatia, is the site of one of the most important sanctuaries of Blažena Djevica Marija (Blessed Virgin Mary), where celebrations for Velika Gospa are held. A grand celebration for the Feast of Assumption is held on August 15. This national holiday is notable 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, 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 accompanied by the solemn ringing of bells and the sound of fanfare. Carrying the painting on one’s shoulders is a great honor.

The painting may be carried by:

  • Alkari
  • 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

[Read: Sinjska alka – Croatia’s annual knightly competition in Sinj]

Cannonballs 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 city of Sinj.

Velika Gospa celebration in other Croatian cities

In other Croatian towns, 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 are Mary’s shrines outside 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

View our other national holiday posts

Blagdan je Velike Gospe. Znate li što se točno danas svetkuje? by Več

Please note: Information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. Croatian laws and bureaucratic rules often change, and each personal case is individual, so different rules may apply. For legal advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant.

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