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Brezje, Slovenia: Mary Help of Christians Church and the Miraculous Icon of Our Lady

About Slovenia:

One of the most picturesque countries in all of Eastern Europe, Slovenia has a population of just over 2 million people and lies east of Italy and north of Croatia (formerly Yugoslavia, from which it gained its independence in 1991). It has a deep Catholic history and the majority of its population today remains Catholic. Almost every village has a church and you find countless roadside shrines throughout this country.

About Saint Mary Help of Christians:

Perhaps the most significant of these churches, Saint Mary Help of Christians, was built in Brezje in 1860, on top of ruins of an earlier church, and a painting was made of the Madonna and Child at that time. Beginning around 1865 there were reports of many healings that occurred when venerating the image and it became a popular place of pilgrimage.

The village is small, with only about 500 inhabitants, and is a wonderful destination.

Lake Bled in SloveniaAbout Lake Bled:

As you can see from the picture, Lake Bled is one of the most beautiful locations in Europe. It is about 40 miles from the capital of Ljublijana in the Karavanken Alps.

Located on a small Island in the middle of Lake Bled is The Church of Mary the Queen, also known as the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Mary, or Our Lady of the Lake  The church as a beautiful interior with artwork dating from the 15th century, and,  of special interest, is a bell of wishes, made by Francesco Patavino from Padova way back in 1534. The legend says that those who ring the bell and make a wish, will see their wish come true. But there’s one rule: you can make only one wish.

There is a fee to enter the church, and some say it’s not worth it.  So you might want to check around the internet and get opinions on whether you want to spend the money.

Traveling to Brezje:

The nearest major city is Ljubiana, which  has frequent flights from many European cities. Brezje is accessible by car, as well as bus, from Ljublijana.  Travel time is about 1 1/2 hour.

Click here for the official website of the of Saint Mary Help of Christians in Brezje.

Click here for a brief history of the Church.

Photo courtesy Slovenia Tourism.

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