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Queen of Croatia

July 13, 2013

Blessed Virgin Mary – Marija Bistrica (Wikipedia)
In 1545 a local priest hid the wonder working statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary with the Infant Jesus, which previously stood in a wooden chapel on the Vinski Vrh (Hill) nearby, within the church to save it from the Turks and took the secret of its hiding place to his grave. The statue was discovered in 1588, when according to the records bright light shone from the place where it was buried. In 1650 the statue had to be once again hidden to be rediscovered in 1684.
In 1710 the Croatian parliament vowed to fund a new altar in the church, which was done in 1715. In 1731 the church was expanded and reconsecrated to Our Lady of the Snows. In 1750 Pope Benedict XIV granted plenary indulgence to pilgrims who confess and accept the Eucharist in Bistrica.
In 1879 to 1882 a new church was built in its place, designed in the style of Neo-Renaissance by Hermann Bollé. Arcades were constructed around the church decorated with 22 paintings of the miracles granted by the Blessed Virgin. During the construction a fire destroyed all of the church except the statue and the main altar.
In 1923 Pope Pius XI granted the church the status of a minor basilica and in 1935 the archbishop of Zagreb Ante Bauer crowned the statue as Our Lady Queen of Croatia. As archbishop, Aloysius Stepinac paid special attention to the site and made annual pilgrimages. On July 8, 1945 he led his last pilgrimage to Marija Bistrica which drew 40,000-50,000 people.[3]

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