The Church of St. Mary of Jerusalem in Trški Vrh, St. Catherine’s Church and Franciscan monastery
Considering a fact that Croats are very proud and religion people, especially in this region, it’s not an uncommon thing in hearing them allude to their patriotism and religious heritage. Thus, pilgrimage to Krapina is unavoidable votive patrimony event for the believers.
Religion plays significant part in everyday life of average Croatian so they’re not going to these places unintentionally, they go purposefully – to get back to their inner self and enjoy breathtaking beauty of tame Zagorje hills, a view from which reveals outlines of Strahinčica mountain on one side, Krapina and Krapinjčica river valley on the other.
The Church of St. Mary of Jerusalem in Trški Vrh is the prominent one.
It was built in 18-th century (1750.-1761.) and it is considered as one of the most alluring objects representing baroque type of architecture in this area. Although baroque epoch personifies peak of feudalism, this church was built by pious citizens and peasants as their votive church and as a safe-place for the statue of Virgin Mary which is accredited with some miraculous virtues. The story tells that a Franciscan Stjepan Balogović got the statue as a present to his brother Nikola, when he got back from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Nikola kept it in his house praying in front of it. One day a dreadful tragedy arose! His house caught on fire and got burned to the ground. All that was left was this statue – intact. Amazed by this event he placed it in a walnut tree by the public road, so the people can say their praise to the miraculous power of statue. Even a theft of the little statue followed, but it was brought back after a year and a half to its rightful owner, which then chose to place it in a little chapel he built on his property on Trški Vrh.
The real veneration had its outset after the cattle plague epidemic, which decimated livestock number, of already poor population. In all that misery people asked for help from heaven. A big votive procession was held on September the 16th 1743. . They went up to hill Trški Vrh and asked Madonna for salvation. After undertaking a vow, there were no more cattle deaths, says testimony. The word of this act had spread throughout the country rapidly.
Inspired by the feeling of gratefulness people decided to build a church Trški Vrh. That’s how the construction started. Beautiful baroque edifice of the Church of St. Mary of Jerusalem was finished in 1761.
Interior of the church astounds the visitor with its tranquility, grace and opulence of wall paintings and frescoes, so there is a chance to overtake a look of the statue itself. It is only 12 cm high, so all of the other relics tend to conceal it at its place on the main altar. A merit for walls and ceiling artwork belongs to Antun Larchinger. He was a protégé of Ivan Ranger, most eminent Croatian baroque painter. Frescoes depict events linked to the emergence of the sanctuary, and scenes from the Holly Bible in reverence to Virgin Mary.
The Church of St. Mary of Jerusalem also adorn by unique organs held in its possession. Constructed by Antun Roemer in 18th century, they are admirable achievement, both in visual and acoustic terms. Curiously, in Antun’s country of birth Austria, there aren’t any of his instruments preserved.
The Church of St. Mary of Jerusalem is encompassed by an eight sided cincture with four towers (chapels). The walls are illustrated in follower’s messages of gratefulness to Virgin Mary’s granted prayers.
During feasts, pilgrims walk the Way of the Cross with 14 stages which is also a work of art by itself, created by painter Eugen Kokot.
This is just a brief look into historical beauty of Trški Vrh, and it is highly recommended place to visit. It will surely enrich your heart and your soul.
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