Marija Bistrica is a town in Krapina-Zagorje County and the site of the biggest Marian shrine in Croatia, with more than 900,000 visitors per year.
The miraculous Black Madonna statue is 112 cm tall and dates back to the 15th ct. In the 16th ct the parish priest hid the statue under the church choir to protect it because there was an imminent danger of Ottoman invasion. The priest brought the location of the statue to his grave, and it wasn’t discovered until 43 years later when a strange light pointed out the location. The statue was found undamaged and put to the altar for worship.
It was hidden again in 1650, again because of Ottoman invasion, only to be rediscovered in 1684. During this period Our Lady appeared twice to the parish priest, asking him to pray for her sight, which was interpreted as a plea to find the statue and put it to altar for worship again. Miraculous recoveries started happening after the rediscovery day, and there were more than a thousand over the next 100 years.
While a new church was being built at the site, 1879-1882, there was a fire and everything but the statue and the main altar burnt down.
In 1935 the statue was crowned and Our Lady got its present day appearance.
Blessed Aloysius Stepinac paid special attention to Marija Bistrica and made frequent pilgrimages there.
Mon – Sat: 6:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 6 p.m.
Sunday: 6:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 4 p.m.
In 2017, organized pilgrimages from various Croatian towns and cities take place from 23 April until 29 October. You can find out more on the official website.
The distance between Zagreb and Marija Bistrica is 36 km, so it takes 40-60 min to get there, starting at 40 kn. You can see the timetables here.
If you want a more personal approach and a guide, you can also book a package trip with Omega Group.