It is finally that day, „the special one that comes once a year “as people of Dubrovnik like to say. Today we celebrate our Patron, our Holy Protector, Saint Blaise, in a wonderful Feast organized and cherished for centuries. But this year it’s even more special. This year we celebrate the jubilee – 1050th year since we embraced Saint Blaise as our Patron Saint who saved the City from its impending doom and won the hearts of the people of Dubrovnik for all the generations to come, making this day the Day of the City of Dubrovnik as well.
The legend and history
Since the year 972, the people of Dubrovnik had pledged their allegiance to the holy figure that appeared in a local priest’s dream the year before. In those crucial days for whole of the Republic, Venetian ships arrived at the City, pretending to be friends who are just passing by and heading to distant wars. But as the days passed by, Venetians didn’t seem like they intended to leave the City, on the contrary, they started to leave their ships, lurk around town at night, waiting, plotting, and planning. That fateful night Saint Blaise appeared in a dream of a local priest named Stojko, revealing to him the true intentions of the Venetian armada. Stojko got up and rushed to the authorities informing them of the dream and urging them to secure the City. They were taken by priest’s words and immediately did just that. After the Venetians figured out Dubrovnik had seen through their lies, they tried attacking the City, but with no success and with great casualties, after which they returned to Venice with tails between their legs. And the people of Dubrovnik? Well, they remained forever in debt of the holy man who saved their lives and their City, and stayed faithful to him to this day.
Celebrating this year’s Feast
The 1050th celebration of this monumental occasion began yesterday, on the day called Our Lady of Candles, or Candlemas. Hundreds of people attended the festivity in front of the central Church of Saint Blaise, where they had the privilege of witnessing the opening with flag bearers, festanjuls and priests, but also receive the holy blessing of the throat. All those who could not be on Stradun, had the opportunity to follow the opening of the Feast online. The opening of the Feast was preceded by a parade of the City Music along Stradun after which flag bearers greeted the Parton with traditional flag-twirling in front of his church. The white doves were released as a symbol of freedom, love, and hope along the sounds of the Hymn of Saint Blaise. The jubilee 1050th Feast is the new Bishop’s first time to participate and to read the ceremonial Laus after which he addressed the gathered.
“The connection between Dubrovnik and our dear saint through 1050 years is not only a testimony to the wisdom and ability of the ancient citizens of Dubrovnik to happily unite faith and tradition, universal and local, sacred and secular, but also a testimony to the original tradition and life of our local church,” said Bishop Glasnović.
The solemn Eucharistic celebration today, on the central day of the Feast, was presided over by Cardinal Msgr. Blase Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago. After the solemn Holy Mass, a traditional, majestic procession passed through the streets of the City, carrying the powers of St. Blaise and other saints, which are kept safe in the Cathedral during the year. A special place among them is occupied by the powers of the very head of Dubrovnik’s Patron Saint.
Both old and young walked proudly in the procession, and special attention was drawn to the pilgrims in the traditional costumes of Župa Dubrovačka, Konavle, Primorje and many more throughout the county, carrying as much as 111 distinctive flags.
The love and respect the people of Dubrovnik have for they Patron never ceases to amaze everybody who sets foot in this antient city. And in the darkest of days, as the world is going through right now, we never stop hoping, loving, and believing in our one Holy Protector.
Photo: Zvonimir Pandža