By traditionally releasing pigeons and raising flags in front of Dubrovnik’s Saint Blaise Church, the 1050th Festivity of Saint Blaise officially began on Wednesday.
For over one thousand years, Dubrovnik has celebrated the feast day of Saint Blaise by staging one of the most impressive and iconic annual festivals in Europe, and indeed, the world: the Festivity of Saint Blaise (Festa svetoga Vlaha). The celebrations encompass the whole city and surrounding region.
The festival commemorates Saint Blaise’s salvation of Dubrovnik on the eve of a surprise attack in 971. According to tradition, Saint Blaise’s miraculous intervention successfully thwarted a planned invasion of the city. As an expression of gratitude, the residents of Dubrovnik embraced the saint’s cult, proclaiming him their patron saint and their eternal protector.
The Ragusans’ ideal positioning and famed diplomacy made them the arch Adriatic trade rival of the jealous Venetians to the north. Lacking in the diplomatic abilities possessed by the Ragusans, the Venetians would often use force, plotting numerous attempts to attack and invade the Republic and bring it to its knees over many years. Saint Blaise’s intervention in the foiling of the surprise Venetian attack, whose boats were already silently waiting outside the city walls, meant more to the city than could ever possibly be expressed.
This tradition is still an intrinsic part of the city’s deep sense of not only culture and tradition but also identity. Saint Blaise’s likeness can be found all over Dubrovnik, watching over the city and its people, and is as much a part of Dubrovnik’s soul as the walls themselves.
The saint’s flag was raised by this year’s hosts (festanjuli) – sailor and captain Teo Grbić, and craftsman Toni Cvjetković, to mark the 2022 Saint Blaise celebration on Wednesday.
After reading Laus, the traditional text that opens the festivities and which ends with the exclamation ‘Long live Saint Blaise!’, the Bishop of Dubrovnik, Roko Glasnović, greeted the crowd.
Bishop Glasnović said that ‘the connection between Dubrovnik and Saint Blaise is not only a testimony to the wisdom and ability of the old citizens of Dubrovnik to happily unite faith and tradition, universal and local, sacred and secular but also a testimony of the primordial tradition of the local church that inherits Christ, under the protection of its patron saint.’
“The festivity is a testimony to this relationship, from the apparition to don Stojko and the defense of the city in 971. Over the centuries, it has developed, changed, and supplemented, going through all the good and bad moments with the city,” said the Dubrovnik bishop.
Rector of the Saint Blaise Church Hrvoje Katušić then read congratulations and greetings from all over the world from those who couldn’t attend the Festivity of Saint Blaise this year. After that, the gifts were blessed, and in the end, white doves flew from the hands of Bishop Glasnović.
The inauguration of the 1050th Festivity of Saint Blaise event was attended by the President of the Republic Zoran Milanović, Vice President of the European Commission Dubravka Šuica, Envoy of the Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, Minister of Culture and Media Nina Obuljen Koržinek, Envoy of the President of the Croatian Parliament Branko Bačić, Minister of Regional Development and EU Funds Nataša Tramišak, Neretva County Prefect Nikola Dobroslavić, Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Franković and others.
On the morning of February 3, Dubrovnik City Day Saint Blaise Day, a Mass will be held in front of the cathedral, led by Cardinal Blase Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, followed by the relics and flags of the parishes in honor of Saint Blaise.
On the final day of the Festivity of Saint Blaise, Sunday, February 7, a solemn procession will be held to Gorica, after which the flag will be solemnly lowered in front of the saint’s church.
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