The village of Brezje is best known for its Basilica of Mary Help of Christians, which attracts pilgrims from Slovenia and abroad.
Brezje came to prominance in the 19th century when some miraculous healings took place at the merciful painting of Mary Help of Christians. In 1988 the church of Mary Help of Christians was elevated to the status of basilica by Pope John Paul II. In 2000 the basilica was declared Slovenia's national sanctuary.
Franciscan monks, who built a monastery next to the church, take care of the sanctuary. There is a beautiful shrine in the courtyard of the monastery, the plans for which were drawn by the architect Ivan Vurnik. Next to the basilica is a statue of Pope John Paul II, whilst in front of the basilica there is a park with a statue of the holy family, a large cross, and an open-air exhibition. Right next to the basilica in a former stable is the Nativity Museum with its rich collection of nativity scenes from all over the world.
All information about visiting Brezje is available at the modern Pilgrimage Bureau. If you would like to visit Brezje in a group or donate for Holy Mass, they will be delighted to help you.
The Path of Peace leads from Brezje towards the Peracica waterfalls, and there are also two pilgimage paths: the Rosary Bead Trail (Rožnovenska pot) and the Otoče – Brezje Pilgrimage Trail.
Brezje was first mentioned in written sources in the 11th century; the emergence of the name has several explanations. One of these is that the name comes from the numerous birch trees that grew in the area. In the past the inhabits made their living by farming and horse breeding, whilst an additional source of income was stone masonry, which was based on the use of a pastel green rock called 'Peračica tuff'. In the hamlet of Črnivec pri Brezjah, the well-known Kocijančič family is still practising the trade.