The Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Bled Island, Slovenia


The Legend

The Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Bled Island, Slovenia

According the Legend has it that on this place once stood a shrine of the Ancient Slavonic goddess Živa and was burnt down during the Christian war against the pagans. Priest Staroslav and his daughter Bogomila guarded it when Črtomir came to the island. The temple was destroyed during battles between the followers of the Pagan Cult and Christians, who destroyed the altar and built a church. Bogomila stayed in the new church with her father, while Črtomir, after his baptism near the Savica waterfall, went to Aquilea and became a missionary of the Aquilean patriarch among Slovenes.  The bell has its own tale as well. It sank to the bottom of the lake during its transport to the island. Later on, the Pope sent a new bell for the church. To commemorate this event, the locals annually organize a symbolic pulling-the-bell-out -of-the -water. Visitors can chime the Wish Bell in order for their wishes to come true. On the Bled Island, archeologists have discovered traces of prehistoric (11th to 8th centuries B.C.) and Slavic (9th to 10th century) settlements. 124 graves with skeletons from the 9th to the 11th century were found.

The Church

Lake Bled Island Church Altar

The Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Bled Island, Slovenia located on the island surrounded by the lake, presents the most recognizable icon at Bled Island. The first masonry church on the island, a three-naved Romanesque basilica, was consecrated by the Aquilean patriarch Pellegrino in 1142. In the 15th century, it was rebuilt in the Gothic style: a new presbytery, a freestanding bell tower and the main altar were built. The renovated single-nave church was consecrated in 1465 by the first Bishop of Ljubljana, Count Žiga Lamberg. In 1509 it was so damaged by an earthquake that it required thorough renovation, and this was carried out in the Baroque style. Only the frescoes in the presbytery and a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary, which probably adorned the main altar, are preserved from the previous Gothic Church. The church’s present form is from the 17th century when it was renovated after another earthquake. The bell tower, which was built in the 15th century, has been renovated several times due to damage by two earthquakes, and in 1688 it was struck by lightning. The present tower is 54 m high and has three bells.

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