Celebrating Croatia’s Only Miracle in a Pandemic: 100k People in a Normal Year in Ludbreg

Total Croatia News

September 4, 2020 – More than 100,000 pilgrims descend on Ludbreg in the first weekend of September each year to celebrate Croatia’s only miracle. How many will come this year?

One of the things which is affecting all of us at the moment is uncertainty. Will schools be online, when will all this be over. It is almost impossible to plan for anything, which only adds to the anxiety of the current situation. 

Now imagine that you were organising an event which traditionally brings 100,000 people a year into a small town. How many will show up this year, and how do you prepare for such things as the right amount of catering?

The Eucharistic Miracle of Ludbreg is one of Croatia’s most unusual stories for me. Apart from the story itself, which you can learn about here (or in the One Minute Ludbreg video below), very few people in Croatia seem to know  about the miracle or that it is indeed the only Vatican-certified miracle in Europe. While one million pilgrims a year visit Medjugorje, even though it has not been recognised by the Vatican, many driving through Central Europe close to Ludbreg without realising that they are passing an authentic miracle on the way. 

But then, every first weekend in September, around 100,000 pilgrims descend on Croatia’s miracle town to commemorate the miracle with Holy Mass, a procession, and other events, during with the chalice which turned into blood following the doubting words of a priest in the private chapel of Count Batthyany way back in 1411. It was declared a miracle by Pope Leo X in 1513, and the Croatian government even built a church of thanks in Ludbreg in 1994, more than 250 years after promising to do so if God would stop the plague. 

The COVID-19 pandemic will necessarily reduce the number of pilgrims who will attend, although it is impossible to predict how many will come this year. As the event is primarily a religious one, it is organised not by the town, but by the Diocese of Varazdin and the local parish. 

Traditionally, the town of Ludbreg has put on lots of additional events for the weekend, but these have been scaled back considerably this year due to the virus.  

(Holy Sunday celebrations in a normal year).

The manifestation “Days of Ludbreg’s Holy Sunday” this year will be held on a somewhat smaller scale, without accompanying programs (concerts, exhibitions, promotions, etc.) but with traditional religious and pilgrimage, ie. fair part. One of the novelties this year is that the amusement park will be located in a new location – in the area of ​​the Island of Youth.

– One of the main recommendations for us participants in this process is to wear masks outside during Holy Sunday to further prevent infection, especially during Mass or dispersal after Mass where a higher concentration of visitors to the city is expected. Within the Headquarters, we decided to organize an inspection, the relationship between the service that will control the sanitary conditions, the number of guests in the catering industry. There will be several inspection teams by the Civil Protection Headquarters, and we will engage our Civil Protection Headquarters and the intervention unit of our firefighters to ensure maximum implementation of all measures and recommendations – said Renata Potočnik, Deputy Mayor of Ludbreg and Chief of Civil Protection Headquarters of Ludbreg.


Due to the epidemiological situation, the city of Ludbreg has decided to cancel all accompanying facilities this year, and the entertainment part, ie the amusement park, has been moved to the Island of Youth. – We must not forget, Holy Sunday is primarily a religious event, people come to Ludbreg for Mass, they come to see the Relic that will be exhibited at the Shrine and it is actually the first and main point of Holy Sunday. This part is not organized by the City but by the Diocese of Varaždin and our Parish. The moment the diocese decided that Holy Sunday would be held like all major holiday masses, such as for the Assumption and other feasts, we decided to follow the organization of this second accompanying part. We also recommended not holding all indoor events such as concerts that we were all used to, so we tried to ensure the implementation of epidemiological measures and everything that will take place, will take place outside, outdoors and thus will actually reduce the possibility epidemiological breakthrough. – said Mayor Dubravko Bilić.

A change in the holding of the Ludbreg Fair was also introduced. – There will be no traditional trade fair in that form this year, but the square will be used for our permanent exhibitors who wanted to come to Ludbreg, considering that Holy Sunday itself is held. It will all start the same as in previous years on Thursday, slightly warming up for Friday, Saturday and Sunday – said Mayor Dubravko Bilic.

The Chief of Staff notes that all exhibitors as well as the organizers of the amusement park were warned to adhere to the measures and recommendations. – We have warned those who will run the facilities there to adhere to all epidemiological measures, from disinfection every time before a new ride to all other rules in the number of users that are allowed on a certain area. We also decided to reduce the number of stands that are already connected to the religious part by increasing the distance between the stands – said Deputy Renata Potočnik.

To learn more about Ludbreg beyond its stereotype as the centre of the world, read Marc Rowlands’ Ludbreg, the Croatian Road Less Travelled

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