Places of worship in Europe
Croatia’s most famous pilgrimage site is Zagorje in Marija Bistrica. Marija Bistrica is to the Croatians what is Lourdes to the French, Fatima to the Portuguese, Loreto to the Italians, Czestochowa to the Poles, Mariazell to the Austrians.
The church of Marija Bistrica houses a 16th century Gothic wooden Virgin with miraculous powers. This tradition dates back to the Turkish invasions of the sixteenth century, during which the statue escaped the depredations. The statue of St. Mary was hidden in a wall of the church. In 1684 the statue was found and placed on an altar. Then begins the great pilgrimage. In 1880 a fire destroyed the whole church and yet the statue remained unscathed. After this date, a new church was built. In 1935 the Archbishop of Zagreb crowned with gold and proclaimed Mary the Queen of all Croats. In 1971 the bishops’ conference proclaimed Marija Bistrica national pilgrimage.