19:04 / 15.08.2021.

Author: Katja Miličić

Thousands of pilgrims flock to shrines to celebrate the Assumption

Catholics celebrate the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in Sinj

Catholics celebrate the Assumption of the Virgin Mary in Sinj

Foto: Miroslav Lelas / PIXSELL

Catholics in Croatia, like many other Christians around the globe, celebrated the Feast of the Assumption on Sunday by making pilgrimages to the country’s many shrines to the Virgin Mary. 

Despite very hot temperatures on this Sunday, several thousand people made the pilgrimage to Croatia's national shrine in Marija Bistrica. Due to the panedmic, there were fewer organized groups and a lower turnout than usual.

Marija Bistrica is celebrating 50 years since it was declared the national Marian shrine by the leaders of the Catholic Church in Croatia. Cardinal Josip Bozanić, the Archbishop of Zagreb, urged pilgrims to practice their faith, to hope and love, and called for unity and responsibility during the pandemic.

"We need to develop a stronger sense of community and to understand that we are responsible for one another. That is what the pandemic is urging us to do. So, today we pray for everyone suffering from the coronavirus, as well as for those who are caring for them, especially health care workers,” said the Cardinal in his sermon.

The Cardinal thanked pilgrims for making the journey and gave special praise to families who brought their children.

Pilgrims began arriving in Sinj on Saturday, ahead of the religious holiday. Sinj is known for its Feast of the Assumption procession, which did not take place this year due to COVID-19. The local Franciscan order decided that it would be unsafe. In his sermon, Split-Makarska Archbishop Marin Barišić spoke about the need to value all human life and not just those who are able to work and contribute to the economy.

"If we want to have a more humane future, we must create unity among generations, a united front to protect individuals. We need mutual respect, acknowledgment, and gratitude among grandchildren, parents, and grandparents," the Archbishop said.

Pilgrims from all over the country came to celebrate the holiday, although they were fewer in number than in previous years. Some came by car but others walked all night.

"I headed out at 7 in the morning yesterday. My feet are covered with blisters but that's nothing in comparison what one can gain from this experience,” one man told HRT.

The festivities in Sinj were expected to continue into the evening. Other shrines around the country like those in Rijeka and Aljmaš also drew crowds, but smaller ones than usual.

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