St. Euphemia Church in Croatia – place of pilgrimage

Croatia, Rovinj, Cathedral of St. Euphemia

Rovinj, Rovinj, Cathedral of St. Euphemia

St. Euphemia’s Cathedral is located in Croatia, on the Istrian peninsula in the city of Rovinj in its historic part. The old city is situated on a peninsula, which is shaped like a drop (formerly an island) and rises above the sea. Of course, the Cathedral of St. Euphemia is the main attraction of the city. Whichever way you approach Rovinj, or come from the sea, you can see the bell tower of the cathedral. Its height is 57 meters, it is the highest in Istria. On the spire of the bell tower there is a statue of St. Euphemia, until 1758 it was wooden and then it was replaced by a copper one. The height of the copper statue is 4.7 meters. This statue is a weathervane, the face of the saint always faces the wind. Local fishermen are guided by the weather vane, not by the weather forecasts – because the saint is the patroness of the city. The bell tower of the cathedral is an exact copy of the bell tower of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice. Rovinj was once the most important maritime center for the entire Venetian Republic and the Cathedral of St. Euphemia is the largest and most beautiful church in Istria.

The building of the cathedral was rebuilt in 1725-1736 on the site of an earlier church. On its place until the beginning of the 10th century was the church of St. George, whose statue still adorns the main altar. The temple was rebuilt until 950. On December 3, 1651 began the construction of the cathedral, which lasted 26 years. The facade of the building is made in Venetian style at a later period in the XIX century. The cathedral building itself is built in Baroque style and, like most Catholic cathedrals in Croatia, is rather modest in appearance. It is possible to go up to the cathedral’s bell tower, paying five kuna, from where there is a magnificent view of the city and the sea. At night, the bell tower is beautifully illuminated.

The Cathedral of St. Euphemia is famous because it has a sarcophagus with the relics of this saint. The relics are kept behind the altar of the cathedral. Inside, the basilica is strikingly richly decorated, with magnificent statues of the saints adorning the niches of the cathedral. Every year on 16 September, the day of commemoration of St. Euphemia, thousands of pilgrims come to Rovinj to pay homage to St. Euphemia and to touch her sarcophagus.

Who is Euphemia the All-Mighty, and why do thousands of believers come from all over the world to worship her? The story of her life and death goes back centuries, to the time of the persecutions of Emperor Diocletian. Euphemia was a resident of Chalcedon and grew up in a Christian family. And during a worship service, members of the Christian community were seized, including Euphemia. The young girl was left alone, offered to renounce Christianity. But Euphemia was firm in her faith. Then she was subjected to various tortures. With God’s help, she escaped the torment of the wheel with sharp knives that cut off pieces of her body as they rotated. Euphemia was saved by an angel who stopped the wheel and healed her wounds. The girl could not be thrown into the fiery furnace, two angels appeared to the soldiers and they too became Christians. Then it was decided to throw the saint to the mercy of wild beasts. The girl prayed that the Lord would send an end to her torment and accept her soul. When lions and bears were let into the arena, the wild beasts began to lick her feet and, according to one legend, a lioness and another a bear cub bit her hand and the girl died from loss of blood. The date of her death is September 16, 304. Terrible punishments fell on the city, but the body of the deceased had time to be buried in the neighborhood of Chalcedon, subsequently building a majestic temple over it. Then the relics were transferred to Alexandria, then again to Chalcedon. In 617 after the conquest of the city by the Persians the relics were transferred to Constantinople.

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In 800 the sarcophagus with the relics of the saint vanished from Constantinople, and after a while it was discovered on a raft in the sea near Rovinj. This was a sign to the locals. The Cathedral was built for the sarcophagus.

There is a tradition that at the 4th Ecumenical Council in Chalcedon in 451, the relics of Saint Euphemia were used to settle the dispute over monophysitism. The dispute was resolved through an appeal to God. Scrolls with Orthodox and heretical confessions of faith were placed side by side in the casket of the great martyr. When the relics were rediscovered on the fourth day, it appeared that the Orthodox scroll was in the right hand of Saint Euphemia, while the heretical one lay at her feet. In memory of this miracle, the Orthodox Church has established a feast in honor of Saint Euphemia on July 11 according to the Julian calendar.

The Cathedral of St. Euphemia in Rovinj is easy to find, you have to walk up the narrow cobblestone streets of the historic part of town. The city itself is an open-air museum. The main places of interest in Rovinj are concentrated in its old part. The architecture of the city successfully combines Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance and neoclassicism.

The old Rovinj is rich in various monuments of the Romanesque style which is an attraction for tourists. The sights of the city are: the Chapel of the Holy Trinity, the Church of Our Lady of Mercy, City Hall, Kaliffi Palace, Dr. Martin’s Hospital, and three of the seven city gates: the Gate on the coast, the Gate under the wall and the Holy Gate have retained their original shape. But the Cathedral of St. Euphemia attracts the most tourists to Rovinj every year.


Republika Hrvatska [xř̩ʋaːtskaː] is a state in southern Central Europe, partly in the west of the Balkan Peninsula, a former republic within Yugoslavia that became independent in 1991. The official language is Croatian. The population is 4,246,809.

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Major cities [ edit ]

Orthodoxy in Croatia [ edit ]

History [ edit ]

From the earliest period of the existence of the independent Croatian state (ninth century), it was closely connected with the Latin West. Under the first Croatian king, Tomislav I, two Split church councils were held to decide on the admissibility of worship in the Slavic language. In spite of the decisions in favour of Latin, the Slavic liturgy continued to exist in parallel with the Latin, which was a Roman mass celebrated in the Church Slavonic with the Glagolitic liturgical books. The Glagolitic rite finally disappeared from use in the mid-20th century.

After the Great Church Schism, the Croatian Church remained in communion with the Roman bishop, despite close political ties with Byzantium. After the loss of independence, the Croatian Church enjoyed substantial autonomy within first the Kingdom of Hungary and then Austria-Hungary. In 1687 the Croatian parliament officially proclaimed St. Joseph the patron saint of the country.

After the collapse of Austria-Hungary, Croatia became part of Yugoslavia, where inter-ethnic tensions between Croatian Catholics, Serbian Orthodox and Bosnian Muslims worsened religiously and led to conflicts, most recently the War in Croatia (1991-1995) and the Bosnian War.

During the war a large number of Catholic and Orthodox churches were destroyed. Flows of refugees (Serbs from Croatia, Croats from Bosnia and Herzegovina) have led to significant changes in the ethno-confessional picture.

Current state [ edit ]

Catholicism is the most common religion in Croatia, with 3,697,143 people, or 86.28 percent of the country’s total population, considering themselves Catholics according to the 2011 national census.

Of the Orthodox churches represented in the country: The Serbian Orthodox Church, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, and the Macedonian Orthodox Church (which is out of communion with Ecumenical Orthodoxy, i.e., in schism), which are officially recognized by the state.

According to the 2011 census, the number of Orthodox Christians in Croatia was 190,143, or 4.44% of the country’s population.

As of 2013, there were fifteen active monasteries of the Serbian Orthodox Church, of which: two in the Metropolis of Zagreb-Ljubljana, three in the Diocese of Gornokarlovac, six in the Diocese of Dalmatia, and four in the Diocese of Slavonia.

Saints [ edit ]

Saints [ edit ]

  • The original “Lepavinskaya” icon of the Mother of God.

The relics of ancient Christian saints in Croatia are in Catholic churches:

DUBROVNIK. Cathedral of St. Vlasije. The relics:

  • St. Blasius of Sebastia (4th century) (head and hand).

SPLIT. Cathedral of St. Domnius. Relics:

  • Svmt. Domnius (Duye) (4th c.) (head and part of the relics).
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ZADAR. The Cathedral of St. Anastasia. Relics:

  • Mts. Anastasia Azoresitelnitsa (IV c.) (part of the relics).

The Church of St. Simeon. Relics:

  • Right. Simeon the Theophylact (part of the relics).

ZLARIN ISLAND. Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Relics:

  • Mt. Fortunatus (4th century).

ROVIN. Church of St. Euphemia. Relics:

  • of St. Euphemia the All-Merciful (4th c.).

MAKARSKA. The Church of St. Mark. Relics:

  • Saint Clement of Rome (I c.) (part of the relics)

RAB ISLAND. Church of St Justina (Museum of Religious Art). Relics:

  • St. Mt. Christopher (3rd c.) (chapter)

Monasteries [ edit ]

For a list of all monasteries in Croatia, see HERE .

Krka Men’s Monastery [ edit ]

Krka Men's Monastery

The monastery of Krka is located in Northern Dalmatia in Croatia, founded in 1350. It belongs to the Serbian Orthodox Church. The monastery was founded in 1350 by Serbian princess Helena Šubić Nemanjić, sister of King Stefan Uroš IV and wife of Croatian nobleman Mladen III Šubić. The idea of founding the monastery belonged to the confessor of the princess, monk Ruvim. According to the ancient historian Lucius, the Apostle Paul preached in that area.

In 1530 the church in the monastery was destroyed by the Turks; it was not rebuilt until 1577. In 1647 it was destroyed again, and the monastery was looted. Three years later its restoration began. In the sixteenth century it was under the rule of the bishops of the Diocese of Dabro-Bosnia, such as Gavrilo, Arsentije and Teodor. In the XVIII century, it was administered by spiritual pastors of Montenegro, such as Petar of Cetinje or Sava Petrovic.

The modern look of the monastery was given in 1779. At the same time was erected a new big altar. Since its foundation, the monastery of Krka has been the spiritual center for Serbs of Dalmatia. Various relics and jewels were often sent to the monastery from Jerusalem, Holy Mount Athos, Venice, Russia, etc.

Address: Manastir Krka, 22305, Kistanje

Women’s Monastery of Krupa [ edit ]

Women's Monastery of Krupa

Krupa Monastery is located in Northern Dalmatia, Croatia, founded in 1317. The Krupa monastery was founded in the time of King Milutin in 1317 by monks from the area of today Bosanska Krupa. In the time of King Dušan the Strong in 1345, the monastery was renovated, as evidenced by the inscription on the vault of the monastery church. Serbian king Milutin, his son Stefan Uroš III Dečanski and grandson Stefan Uroš IV Dušan gave the monastery considerable land holdings. Later, their belonging to the monastery was confirmed by sultanic firmaments.

After the Turkish invasion of the Serbian lands, the monastery became the spiritual support for the Serbs of Dalmatia. During this period, the Brankovic despots paid a lot of attention to it. During the Venetian-Turkish wars, the monastery repeatedly suffered, but each time it was restored and rebuilt. In 1537, the monastery came under the rule of the Turks, and in 1557 the Dabro-Bosnian archbishops took over the monastery.

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Thanks to the efforts of Bishop Fotija of Dalmatia, the monastery is being restored and the number of monks is growing.

Address: Manastir Krupa, 23450, Krupa

Lepavina Men’s Monastery [ edit ]

Lepavin Monastery

Lepavina is a men’s monastery in the name of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, belongs to the Serbian Orthodox Church, founded in the 16th century. The local chronicles say that the monastery was built around 1550, shortly after the establishment of the first Serbian settlements in Upper Slavonia. Its founder is considered to be Efrem Vukobradovic, a newcomer to the Hilandar monastery from Herzegovina, who built a small wooden church with two monks from Bosnia.

The history of the monastery became an integral part of the history of the Serbian people in the Varaždin Generalate (military-administrative district). The monastery took part in the struggle against the attempts to introduce union with the Roman Catholic Church. At the end of 1692 – the beginning of 1693 Patriarch Arsenije III Charnojevic stayed in Lepavin for a short time. Here he gathered masses of believers and preached, as well as visited the surrounding provinces. This further increased the importance of Lepavina, which, after the transfer of the monastery of Marča to the Uniates, became the most important center of Orthodoxy in the area.

Under Archimandrite Gabriel (Vuchkovich) the spiritual life of the monastery has increased: the number of monastic residents has increased, Fr. Under Archimandrite Gabriel (Vuchkovich) the spiritual life of the monastery has increased: the number of the monastery’s inhabitants has increased, and several missionary Internet projects have been launched, including the magazine “The Way, the Truth and the Life,” the radio “Blagovest” and the missionary youth project “Teodul”.

The monastery is famous for the miracle-working icon of the Blessed Virgin of Lepava, which makes it an important pilgrimage site.

Address: Located in the village of Lepavina (Sokolovac municipality) in northern Croatia, near the town of Koprivnica.

Temples [ edit ]

For a list of all temples in Croatia, see HERE .

Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Sibenik) [ edit ]

Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Sibenik

The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Sibenik is the largest Orthodox church in the city, located next to the archdiocese seat of the Dalmatian Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the main temple of the Dalmatian Diocese. In the cathedral there is a rich sacristy, which has more than a hundred icons made in the Byzantine style (XV-XIX centuries), as well as a large collection of liturgical items and manuscripts.

Until 1808 the building of the cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary belonged to the Benedictine monastery (XIV century), and the church at that time was called St. Savior (XII century). Subsequently, it passed into the possession of the Serbian Orthodox Church. The church got its present appearance in the XVIII century, and that is when the magnificent Baroque bell tower by Ivan Skok was built. This reconstruction made the church a unique structure of its kind on the entire Adriatic coast.

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Address: Zagrebačka ul., 22000, Šibenik, Croatia

Church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Icon Museum (Dubrovnik) [ edit ]

Church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Icon Museum (Dubrovnik)

The Church of the Annunciation was built in 1877 and is known for its unique collection of icons. The church belongs to the Serbian Orthodox Church.

In 1907, the church purchased the building next door. Once this building belonged to the aristocratic Bond family, and nowadays it houses the museum of icons. The museum has a unique collection of valuable and rare icons dating from the 15th-19th centuries, as well as antique furniture and religious artefacts such as a facsimile edition of Miroslav’s Gospel of 1897 and a Russian-language Gospel with a metal cover printed in Moscow in 1805. The museum houses busts of Vuk Stefanovic Karadzic, a Serbian philologist, linguist and reformer of the Serbian language, and Ivan Gundulic, a Croatian baroque poet from Dubrovnik, among others.

The church also owns a library of some 12,000 books. In addition to liturgical books in Church Slavic, it has various thematic books in French, Russian, Italian and other languages.

Address: Ulica od Puča 8, 20000, Dubrovnik

Church of Elijah the Prophet (Zadar) [ edit ]

Church of Elijah the Prophet in Zadar

The Church of Elijah the Prophet of God in Zadar is a sixteenth-century Orthodox church of the Dalmatian Diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church. It is located on the central square of the Old Town. The Serbian Church of Elijah the Prophet of God with its rich and unique sacristy is one of the attractions of Zadar.

The history of the church and its sacristy began in 1548, when the Prince of Zadar transferred the existing medieval church of St. Elijah to the Orthodox Greeks. In the second half of the 16th century, as well as in the 17th and 18th centuries, more and more Orthodox Serbs began to arrive in Zadar. In the middle of the 18th century it was taken over by the Serbian Orthodox community. It was rebuilt in the late Baroque style, and the bell tower was erected in 1773.

The Church of Elijah the Prophet in Zadar preserves a valuable collection of church shrines. These are ancient icons from the 16th-18th centuries, which were collected in the church during its existence. It is the biggest collection of icons in Dalmatia. In the sacristy you can also see liturgical vessels made of precious metals, mostly by Venetians or Russians in the 18th and 19th centuries, crosses, church clothes, an interesting collection of antimensions, numerous liturgical books, printed in Venice and Moscow and Bude, Serbian and Greek manuscripts.

Address: S.S. 3, Trg Serdara Stojana Jankovića, 23000, Zadar, Croatia

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