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Festival of Saint Blaise

Source: Dubrovnik Online

The Festival of Saint Blaise, patron saint of Dubrovnik, is a thousand-year tradition that includes a festive procession through the city’s ancient streets as well as a series of concerts, exhibitions and theatre performances dedicated to the saint. On the day of the Feast of St. Blasius, mass is celebrated in the church of St. Blasius, from which a festive procession starts its passage through the streets of the old city.

The festivity of the Dubrovnik patron, a day which reminds us that the saint protecting Dubrovnik in the palm of his hand eternally watches over its freedom, was placed on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2009.

Nestled along the stunning Dalmatian Coast of Croatia, the historic city of Dubrovnik is renowned for its ancient walls, breathtaking architecture, and rich cultural heritage. Among the many festivities that grace this enchanting city, one stands out for its deep-rooted significance and fervent devotion – the Feast of St. Blaise.

Every year on February 3rd, Dubrovnik comes alive with a vibrant celebration honoring its patron saint, St. Blaise (Sveti Vlaho in Croatian). This beloved tradition dates back centuries, intertwining elements of religious veneration, community spirit, and cultural pride.

The Origins: The origins of the Feast of St. Blaise trace back to the 10th century when Dubrovnik was known as the Republic of Ragusa. St. Blaise, a revered Christian martyr and the city’s patron saint, is believed to have miraculously saved Dubrovnik from a surprise attack by the Venetian fleet in 971. Legend has it that St. Blaise appeared before the besieging Venetian ships, causing them to retreat in fear, thereby sparing the city from destruction. In gratitude for this miraculous intervention, the people of Dubrovnik pledged their allegiance to St. Blaise, and his feast day became one of the most important dates on the city’s calendar.

The Celebration: The Feast of St. Blaise is marked by a series of religious ceremonies, cultural events, and festive gatherings that unite the community in joyful celebration. The highlight of the festivities is the solemn Mass held at the magnificent St. Blaise Church, located within the city’s historic walls. During the Mass, the relics of St. Blaise, including his skull and bones, are displayed for veneration, drawing pilgrims and worshippers from near and far.

One of the most iconic rituals of the feast is the Blessing of the Throats, a tradition believed to offer protection against throat ailments. Faithful followers line up to receive the blessing, which is administered by priests using two crossed candles, symbolizing the martyrdom of St. Blaise.

Beyond the religious ceremonies, the Feast of St. Blaise also encompasses a rich tapestry of cultural events, including parades, concerts, and traditional folk performances. The streets of Dubrovnik come alive with colorful processions featuring costumed participants, marching bands, and ornately decorated floats, all paying homage to the city’s patron saint.

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