Sunday, 15 August 2021

Archbishop of Zagreb Says Song of Mary Applies to All

ZAGREB, 15 Aug, 2021 - The Archbishop of Zagreb, Cardinal Josip Bozanić, said on Sunday the task stemming from the Magnificat, the Song of Mary, applied to every individual and the entire people, "starting from those who carry responsibility in the Church, political and social areas."

Speaking at the central Mass on the occasion of the Assumption in the Marija Bistrica Marian shrine, he said, among other things, that the ongoing pandemic showed that strong civil friendship and unity were necessary and that people were responsible for one another.

"That's why today we pray for all those ill with coronavirus as well as those caring for them, notably the medical staff."

The cardinal also said the Feast of the Assumption led to a better understanding that every conception and birth of a human being was a gift to the mother, the family and the community.

Among those attending the service were Veterans Minister Tomo Medved and Physical Planning, Construction and State Assets Minister Darko Horvat.

Today is also the 50th anniversary of the declaration of Marija Bistrica as the Croatian National Marian Shrine.

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Thursday, 13 August 2020

Velika Gospa Procession Canceled: Assumption of Mary Program Held Under New Rules

August 13, 2020 -  Despite the coronavirus epidemic, the town of Sinj successfully maintained the continuity of Alka festivities, but can they do the same for Velika Gospa? A new program has been announced.

Slobodna Dalmacija reports that the Assumption of Mary will be observed from two focuses - the organization of the feast and religious ceremonies that include pilgrimages, meeting the image of Our Lady, confession, and the celebration of Holy Mass. The latter is, in fact, the meaning of the faithful's visit to Our Lady of Sinj.

In the first part, significant changes have already taken place concerning the established practice of recent decades. Ante Covo, the Guardian of Sinj, emphasized that the celebration of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary will be celebrated "in a slightly different form".

Thus, from July 26 to August 16, the Franciscans of Sinj celebrate all Holy Masses in the monastery yard, and through video walls, the faithful can participate in Masses in the premises of the church and the convent. Singing is shortened during Holy Mass, and choirs sing from the church choir.

The most significant change relates to the traditional central procession through the city in which the image of Our Lady is carried on the holiday. This, unfortunately, has been canceled this year. The Franciscans say they have canceled the procession "in order to avoid provocation and, God forbid, be a hotbed of contagion."

In order to reduce the gathering of a larger number of believers at certain hours, on August 14 and 15, Holy Mass will be held almost every hour. Hand disinfection is mandatory at the entrance to the convent, and wearing masks is also recommended. While waiting in line for communion, a distance is kept, and it is recommended to be with family members and to avoid socializing with strangers.

Pilgrims arriving in Sinj and local believers generally adhere to all measures and recommendations. During the past ten days, a river of people has already passed through Sinj, although in several times smaller numbers than before.

It can be assumed that due to caution and justified fear of the virus, this year's number of pilgrims to the shrine of Our Lady of Sinj will be significantly lower. The previous religious gatherings in the church of Our Lady of Sinj were not the focus of the infection. The hope remains that this will be the case after the Assumption of Mary. 

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Friday, 24 July 2020

Velika Gospa: Assumption of Mary in Sinj to be Held without Procession

July 24, 2020 - Due to epidemiological reasons, the traditional procession through the city streets of Sinj for the Assumption of Mary on August 15 will not be held, revealed the Franciscan monastery of Our Lady of Sinj on Thursday evening.

"We will organize this year's celebration of the Assumption without a big procession through the city, attended by thousands of people from different parts of our beautiful country, to avoid provocation, and God forbid, to be a hotbed of infection," read a statement signed by monastery guard Ante Covo, as reported by Slobodna Dalmacija.

It warns that we are celebrating this year's celebration of the Assumption in "unprecedented circumstances because we are surrounded by an invisible enemy, COVID-19, which threatens us." However, they say, that the parish, under the protection of the Miraculous Lady of Sinj, has been almost unscathed during this epidemic.

In order to reduce the gathering of a larger number of believers in certain hours of the day, they will have Holy Mass almost every hour on August 14 and 15, and invited the faithful to carefully read the posters and choose the best time to attend Mass.

During Holy Mass, as stated, only the changing parts will be sung: the entrance song, the singing of the psalm, hallelujah, the gift, the communion, and the closing song, and the choirs will sing from the church choir.

The Sacrament of Penance will be accessible in the cloister and the monastery courtyard under the aisle, so that there are as few believers as possible in one closed space.

"During the holidays, listen carefully to the instructions of the Civil Protection Headquarters. Be sure to disinfect your hands at the entrance to the church and the cloister and, if the measure remains in force, wear a mask.

Stick to those measures that the Church recommends: take communion only by hand, do not give a sign of peace, try to keep a distance while you go or wait for Communion, during Mass, be with those who are from your family and your environment, avoid socializing with strangers, and if you do not feel well, stay at home," continued the statement of the Franciscan Monastery of Our Lady of Sinj.

This year's celebration of the Assumption is celebrated under the motto "Our Lady, be our salvation."

"May he save us from all that we could harm ourselves and others. May he lead us on a path that will soften everyone's hearts, open hands, strengthen faith, strengthen hope and lead everything to effective love," the Sinj monastery concluded.

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Friday, 16 August 2019

VIDEO: Thousands of Believers Celebrate Velika Gospa in Sinj

August 16, 2019 - The Assumption of Mary, or Velika Gospa for those of us in Croatia, is celebrated on August 15.

Thousands of believers formed what looked like a human anthill as they made their way to the city of Our Lady to celebrate the Assumption of Mary, or what Croatians know better as Velika Gospa, on August 15. Sinj boasts the largest Mary shrine in southern Croatia and has celebrated Our Lady of Sinj for more than three centuries, reports Slobodna Dalmacija.

The inhabitants of the Alka city and the region opened their hearts and welcomed pilgrims from all over the world, who also got to enjoy the Sinj City Park which was transformed into an open-air restaurant where thousands of suckling pigs and lambs were roasted. 

According to the long tradition, on Thursday, a central celebration was held in honor of Our Lady of Sinj with a traditional procession through the streets of the Alka city, in which the image of Our Lady was proudly carried, led by Marin Barišić, Archbishop of Split-Makarska and Metropolitan. Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković even participated in the procession.

The celebration on Thursday morning is individually the largest gathering of worshipers of Our Lady of Sinj, and if viewed only by the number of those gathered, it is by far the largest shrine to Mary in Croatia. While it’s hard to have an exact estimate, it is safe to say that between 50 and 80 thousand believers participated in the celebration. 

Believers came from near and far - like Karlo Jurišić who joined from Argentina, where he was born 60 years ago. 

“So far, I have come to Croatia 5-6 times and every time I come to the church of Our Lady of Sinj because my barba is Fr. Gabriel Jurišić. In Argentina, we celebrate the Assumption of Mary, but not as spiritually as here,” said Karlo.

“I came from Australia. Since Croatia’s independence, I have come every year, and I do not miss the celebration of Our Lady of Sinj. I visit relatives in Vojnić, I met with my cousin Ivica Križanec in Sinj, now I will walk the procession, and soon go back to Australia,” said Jozo Bajić.

“Since 1976, I have made 37 pilgrimages to Our Lady of Sinj on foot. I had only missed it when I had pressing commitments,” said Split-Dalmatia County prefect Blaženko Boban.

Marija Budimir Bekan from Turjaka was among the oldest pilgrims to Our Lady of Sinj.

“I was born in the Mirčet family in Dicmo in 1931, and I married in Turjaka to my late husband, Ivo Budimir Bekan. I was first taken to Our Lady when I was five. Since then, every year, I come to greet Our Lady of Sinj on the Assumption. She's our sweet mother. If it hadn't been for her, if she hadn't defended and protected us, none of us would be here today,” said Marija.

The procession on Thursday formed at King Tomislav Square. After the church bells rang, the priests removed the image of Our Lady from her altar and carried it to the main church door where it was passed onto Alkars and Alkar boys. In front of Our Lady's image were members of the Croatian Army, police, firefighters, Sinj City Music, members of the KUDs in folk costumes, Homeland War associations, nuns, representatives of civil authorities, ministers and just before the image, the archbishop and priests. Behind Our Lady's image was a crowd of believers. When the procession arrived in front of the Municipal Court building, it paused briefly to bless all four sides, according to the established tradition.

The painting was propped on the temporary altar in Dr. Franjo Tudjman Square to begin the solemn mass, with the assistance of dozens of priests, led by Marin Barišić. The solemn Eucharist in honor of the heavenly mother of Sinj was celebrated by the parish choir of Our Lady of Sinj, led by Jura Zupić and sister Jelena Mijić.

Ante Čovo sent commendable greetings and thanks to those gathered. At the very end of the solemn mass, the blessing of Our Lady's image was shared. After the national anthem, Our Lady's image was returned to her altar.

According to the estimates of the priests, about 50,000 believers participated in the procession, and it was expected that up to 100,000 believers from Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and all parts of the world were in Sinj on Thursday for the festivities. 

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