Istria has a rich sacral heritage that witness hundred years of Christianity on the peninsula. There used to be 1500 churches in Istria. The simple exterior of the old churches hides lavish frescoes of which the most famous is the Dance of Death in Beram.
From long ago, people have been travelling around the world because of the religious reasons, and Istria is one of the religious destinations where you can visit the churches, honour the saints, experience pilgrimage through the sacred places and praying at the ways of the cross. Among important religious places is Parish church of St. Blaise in Vodnjan, Church of St. Euphemia in Rovinj, Euphrasian Basilica in Poreč, Pauline Monk’s monastery in Sv. Petar u Šumi, Church of Our Lady of Health in Hreljići, St. Fosca in Batvači and many others.
The largest church in Istria in Vodnjan
This part of Istria represents a special destination because it offers a unique sacral treasure.
Church of St. Blaise in Vodnjan is the largest parish church in Istria and also the one with the highest tower (62m). It also keeps 370 relics and remains of the 250 different saints, which are among the best-preserved in the world.
In Vodnjan's collection, you can find a canvas that was used by the Blessed Alojzije Stepinac, Blessed Miroslav Bulešić and the Holy John Paul II. A copy of the Shroud of Turin was found in one of the sarcophagus in the church.
This small church is located in place Batvači in the area of Vodnjan and it's a pilgrimage visited by many believers from past times, once by foot and in a wooden wagon with harnessed donkeys and today, people visit pilgrimages by car and seldom by foot.
Each first Sunday after February 13th, the Assumption of St. Fosca is held and many believers witness miraculous recoveries thanks to her.
Protector of Rovinj
The large, marble sarcophagus in which rests the saint has floated to the bottom of the town walls in the year 800. Under the saint's command, a boy has dragged it from there to the top of the hill with the help of two heifers.
St. Euphemia's Day, the protector of Rovinj, is celebrated on the 16th of September when the sarcophagus will be open and Rovinj becomes the centre of all believers of Istria. The top of the bell tower offers a beautiful view of Rovinj.
Pilgrimage to the Church of Our Lady of Health
Famous Marian pilgrimage place of the south of Istria is located in village Hreljići near Marčana. It's one of the smallest Marian sanctuaries in Croatia.
Every year, on the second Sunday of October, believers gather in this church and participate in the procession with the statue of Our Lady of Health in Hreljići that goes around the church.
Two ways of the cross in Istria
Every year on Lent Sunday, in village Gljuščići located in the area of Sv. Petar u Šumi, is held the Way of the cross to the honour of father Danijel Hekić. On the 4.2 kilometres long path, believers go through the polish paths between the arable land and vineyards and go around the 14 stations where the stone sculptures with sacral motifs are located.
Believers of Premantura, Banjole, Pomer and surrounding parishes on Good Friday and before the Assumption of Mary, pray on the Way of the cross on the Upper Kamenjak, close to the southernmost point of the Istrian peninsula. On the 4 kilometres long way of the cross, there are the stations of the way of the cross carved in a sculptural technique of relief on stone blocks.