27 August, 1673: Svatá Hora Basilica consecrated

The Svatá Hora Basilica near Příbram

The Svatá Hora Basilica near Příbram, 60 km south-west of Prague, is one of the most famous Roman Catholic pilgrimage sites in Czechia. The early Baroque complex was built on a site where miracles attributed to the Virgin Mary are said to have occurred.

The Svatá Hora Basilica near Příbram | Photo: Olga Vasinkevič,  Radio Prague International

The first attested miracle on the site occurred in June 1632, when a certain Jan Procházka is said to have regained his sight. More than 4500 miracles are recorded in the church’s chronicles, each meticulously recorded with its own serial number and the year in which it occurred. Thanks to its reputation for miraculous healing, Emperor Ferdinand II and his son, who eventually succeeded him as Emperor Ferdinand III, visited the site in 1634 and twice more in 1646.

The extensive complex is situated on a hill (Svatá Hora means ‘holy mountain’) approximately 590 metres above sea level. The first chapel was built on the site in the middle of the 13th century, but after the first miracle occurred in 1632, the present complex was built. Carlo Lurago, a famous Italian architect based in Prague, designed it in a style inspired by Italian Baroque architecture, unknown in the Czech lands at the time. The complex contains a central sanctuary surrounded by eight chapels on a raised terrace, where the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, rebuilt and expanded by Lurago between 1660–1673, stands.

The Miraculous Statuette of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Blessed Virgin Mary | Photo: Ondřej Tomšů,  Radio Prague International

The Miraculous Statuette of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which was probably made in the middle of the 14th century and depicts the Virgin Mary with the Baby Jesus, is the most important artefact in Svatá Hora. The right to crown the statuette was issued by the Vatican, based on the number of miracles attributed to it and the number of pilgrims that were travelling to see it. The statue was crowned in 1732, one hundred years after the first miracle was recorded. Since that time, a celebration of the coronation has taken place every year.

Svatá Hora itself received spiritual recognition when it became the first church in Austria-Hungary to receive the honorary title of Minor Basilica.

Author: Klára Stejskalová | Source: Český rozhlas