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Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Brezje

The Church of St Vitus, which was elevated to the status of Basilica of Mary Help of Christians, is Slovenia's national sanctuary. The merciful painting of Mary Help of Christians has been enticing pilgrims from across Slovenia and Europe since the miraculous healings that took place in 1863. The Virgin Mary is the protector of the Slovene nation and the village of Brezje the central Slovene pilgrimage centre.
Pilgrimage Office (Romarski urad)
Brezje 72, Brezje
Tel: +386 4 / 537 07 00
E: info@romar.si
www.romar.si
The first church on the site of the present-day pilgrimage church was erected in the fourteenth or fifteenth century. It was dedicated to St Vitus. At the end of the eighteenth century, church renovations commenced and a chapel dedicated to St Anthony of the Desert was annexed to it. The chapel of the Mother of God was annexed in 1800.

The Chapel of Mary was painted in 1814: Leopold Layer, a painter from the town of Kranj, painted it as token of his gratitude for being saved from prison. The merciful painting of Mary Help of Christians was created, which lured increasing numbers of visitors to the church.

As a consequence, the need for a larger church arose. The present-day neo-Renaissance church is the work of Robert Mikovitz, an architect from Graz, and was consecrated in 1900. The front façade is heavily decorated with mosaic symbols, inscriptions, a rose window and other fine art decorations.
Holy Mass:
Summer time:
weekdays and Saturdays at 7.00, 8.30, 10.00 a.m., 4.oo p.m. and at 7.00 p.m.
Sundays and public holidays at: 7.00, 8.30, 10.00, 11.30 a.m., at 4.00 p.m. and at 7.00 p.m.

Winter time:
weekdays at 7.00, 10.00 a.m. and at 6.00 p.m.
Saturday at 7.00, 8.30, 10.00 a.m., 4.oo p.m. and at 6.00 p.m.
Sunday and public holidays at: 7.00, 8.30, 10.00,11.30 a.m. and at 4.00 and 6.00 p.m.
Between two semi-circular columns made from red marble is an elaborately carved double door, following the designs of Radovljica's Janez Vurnik. Above the main gate's doorpost is a marble relief of Mary Help of Christians. On its left are the angels, Raphael and Gabriel, and on its right a woman lying on a sickbed, who, together with her family, prays to Mary Help of Christians for good health.

The church's interior constitutes a complete Renaissance unit. Above the high altar, there is a mosaic of St Vitus, who remains the church's patron to this day. The high altar and all three side altars are the work of Slovene artists.

The Chapel of Mary Help of Christians is the most important part of the sanctuary. The ceiling and the painting of Mary in a wooden altar were painted by Leopold Layer. The chapel was renovated in 1954. The floor in the chapel is made from sanded Bosnian granite and the walls are clad with Istrian marble. The altar, which retains its small size, is made of white Carrara marble. The gilded tabernacle features a bunch of grapes hanging from a vine, with glowing rubies representing the grapes. Above the tabernacle hangs the merciful painting of Mary Help of Christians in a gilded metal frame, which is dotted with a variety of natural stones collected from the length and breadth of Slovenia.

Next to the basilica is a Franciscan monastery, which was built in 1898. The area in front of the basilica is arranged in accordance with the plans of the architect, Jože Plečnik. In the park, there is a sculpture of the Holy Family and a memorial to Pope John Paul II, who elevated the Church of St Vitus to the status of a basilica in 1988. The Slovene nation was dedicated to the Virgin Mary on 15 August 1992 in Brezje. 

The basilica was proclaimed the Slovene national sanctuary in January 2000.


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