Thursday, 16 June 2022

4th Antunovski hod Mladih in Zagreb Highlights Religious Tourism in Croatia

June 16, 2022 - "Love is the soul of faith.” With this in mind, thousands of young people participated in the 4th Antunovski hod Mladih in Zagreb.

Religious tourism is not something new in Croatia, in fact, it has a long history thanks to pilgrimage and sacred sites. St. Anthony of Padua, for example, known as the “Saint of the whole world”, is especially honored by Croatians. Therefore, on June 11, exactly one week after the spiritual-musical spectacle “Progledaj srcem” at Maksimir Stadium, thousands of believers from several parts of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Austria, Germany and Switzerland visited Zagreb for the 4th “Antunovski hod mladih” (transl. “Anthony’s youth walk”). One could also meet non-Croatian-speaking people.

For the feast of St. Anthony on June 13, thousands of pilgrims – mostly younger generations – walked about 16 km from the Church of St. Anthony in Sesvetska Sela to the Church of St. Anthony on Sveti Duh in Zagreb.

With the 1st „Antunovski hod mladih“ in 2019, this pilgrimage has already become a tradition that attracts more and more young people every year. While last year the walk saw at least 2,000 participants, in 2022, there were about 3,000 or more. As complaints about young people’s lack of interest in faith and religion can often be heard, this walk showed the strength of unity and love under the motto „Love is the soul of faith“, one of the Saint’s most popular quotes.

It all started with the Holy Mass at 1 pm in front of the Church of St. Anthony in Sesvetska Sela, after which the pilgrims, including more than 100 hundred young musicians, dancers, drummers, and other volunteers, headed to Zagreb‘s Dubrava. As this is probably the most difficult part of the whole route, a short break with refreshments prepared by Herzegovinian friars awaited them there. They re-formed a column of 2 km through the entire capital city with the main square in the centre being their next destination. 

At Ban Josip Jelačić Square, thousands of people celebrated with their prayers and songs. After walking for about 5 hours in the sun, some would assume the pilgrims were tired, but in the city center, their performance was taken to another level. Volunteers prepared a dance and act, which was attended by one of the main organizers and priest Stjepan Brčina, sending a strong message to stay united and be strong in forgiveness, love, and service. The whole point of this was to encourage people to jump out of the frame they set for themselves or that others set for them.

Finally, at about 8 pm, the pilgrims arrived at the Church of St. Anthony on Sveti Duh, where already hundreds of fellow citizens awaited and welcomed them with applause and cheers. The 4th „Antunovski hod mladih“ then concluded with Eucharistic Adoration and a celebration afterward. Of course, after this walk, people were certainly a little tired physically, but at the same time spiritually very strong, fulfilled by happiness, gratitude, and love. 

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