Sastin-Straze, Slovakia: Basilica of Our Lady of Sorrows
The story of Our Lady of Sorrows:
As a result of many invasions over the centuries by its ruthless neighbors, the people of Slovakia have always sought comfort in Our Lady of Sorrows. The center of this devotion is the town of Sastin, home to a miraculous statue dating back to the 16th Century.
The beginnings of this shrine date back to 1564, when a local nobleman, who was constantly mis-treating his wife, got into an argument with her one day while riding in their coach and pushed her out on to the road. That day she made a vow to have a statue created to the Virgin Mary if her husband would change his behavior. From that day forward he began to be more gentle toward her and ask for forgiveness for his actions.
True to her word, she had a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary made and had it placed on the side of the road where she had been pushed out. The spot became a popular place of pilgrimage and soon a small chapel was built there. The history of the shrine is wrapped up in the tumultuous history of Slovakia itself.
In 1733 the Order of Saint Paul (the Paulines) took on the role of caring for the statue and began building a shrine as well as a monastery, which was not completed until 1773. Unfortunately the Emperor Joseph II banished the order in 1786 and took control of the monastery. Local diocesan priests then took charge of the shrine.
In the 20th Century more change took place when the local apostolic administrator put the Salesians in charge of the shrine. including World War II, culminating in 1950 when Communist forces captured the Salesians and sent them all off to concentration camps.
With the fall of Communism in the 1990’s the shrine has gained new popularity. In 1964 it was elevated to the status of Minor Basilica by Pope Paul VI.
About the Shrine:
There are daily Masses and devotions and special feast days such as May 24 (Our Lady Help of Christians), Pentecost Sunday and September 15-16 (Our Lady of Sorrows). There are also special Fatima devotions on the first Saturday of every month. We believe at this time that all masses are in Slovakian.
There are no hotels in the village and therefore most people travel to the shrine from either Bratislava or Vienna.
There is train service to Sastin-Straze and from there you can take a taxi or walk about 15 minutes to the shrine. On feast days such as the annual pilgrimage on September 15, there are also special trains put in service.
Click here for the official website of Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica in Sastin-Straze, Slovakia
There is also a chapel in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows.
Photo credits: Our Lady of Sorrows Basilica.