The Festivity of St. Blaise, Dubrovnik’s patron saint, is one of the city’s oldest and most valued traditions. Organized to celebrate Saint Blaise’s day (February 3) every year since 972, the event is a unique example of the city’s culture and history, and was listed as part of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2009. It is also the Day of the City of Dubrovnik and provides visitors with a unique opportunity to explore traditional local craftsmanship and see some of the region’s magnificent national costumes. The event draws countless domestic and foreign guests and dignitaries to the Old Town every year.
The Festivity of St. Blaise is based on the legend of the saint helping the people of Dubrovnik defend their town against Venetians, who dropped anchor in the vicinity under the pretense of restocking supplies with the intention to conquer the city in 972. Saint Blaise is said to have appeared to a local priest to warn him about their real intentions and, as a result, the Dubrovnik Senate was able to prepare the defense in time to force the Venetians to retreat. In the aftermath, the people of Dubrovnik declared St. Blaise the town’s main patron.
The Festivity traditionally begins on February 2, the day of Our Lady of Candelora, with the releasing of white doves, symbolizing peace and freedom, in front of the Dubrovnik Cathedral and the raising of St. Blaise’s flag on Orlando’s Column in front of the Church of St. Blaise. On February 3, the main day of the celebration, numerous church dignitaries come to Dubrovnik and carry the saint’s relics and the cloth of baby Jesus across the city streets. During the procession, which kicks off with a celebratory mass in the open, locals and visitors touch the relics and pray while priests bless them using two crossed candles. As a special attraction, a local group known as the trombunjeri fire short rifles, the same kind that was used in the past to frighten away invaders, before entering the city.
The Festivity of St. Blaise is the culmination of a 10-day entertainment program that hosts some of the best known Croatian musicians and performers, as well as a series of art workshops, exhibitions and wine tasting events in the streets of the Old Town. The festivities are humanitarian in nature, with proceeds raised to help the poor and restore the Church of St. Blaise.
Travellers looking to explore Dubrovnik’s historic and cultural attractions from the comfort of a luxury hotel with amazing sea views, can book their stay at the Sheraton Dubrovnik Riviera Hotel. Situated right on the seafront in the village of Srebreno near Dubrovnik, the hotel offers superb accommodation and service, the finest local and international dishes, and countless recreation options.
Guests looking for an exceptionally relaxing holiday can unwind in the whirlpool, detox in one of the saunas, recharge in the fitness centre or the yoga and pilates studio, or enjoy a spa treatment at the luxuriously equipped Shine Spa for Sheraton centre as part of the Sheraton wellness program.
Images: Wikimedia Commons/August Dominus, Ivica Vlahović, Mario Bonačić