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Hostýn (or Svatý Hostýn, i.e. Saint Hostýn) is a hill (734.6 m) in Moravia, Czech Republic. It is an important Marian place of pilgrimage. The pilgrimage comes from a legend that describes a miracle made by the Virgin Mary.
According to a traditional legend, first recorded in 1665 by the writer Bohuslav Balbín in his work Diva Montis Sancti, during the disastrous raid of the "Tartars" in the 13th century, people who were seeking asylum here lacked water and they prayed Mary for help. It is said that a stream of water came out of the ground and a powerful storm forced Tatars to retreat.
On the hilltop is an ancient hill-fort with the ditch and noticeable defensive wall made of earth and stone which is still 4-8 metres high. The fortification was first build by the people of the Lusatian culture cca 1200 BCE. In later centuries it was several times destroyed and rebuild, most notably by the Celts.
The first medieval chapel of Virgin Mary was probably build by the miners and was first mentioned in 1544 without any reference to the legend, which probably originated from the existence of massive walls, chappel and spring near the hilltop. At the time when the legend was first mentioned by Bohuslav Balbín (1665) it was a clear analogy to the contemporary war with Turks. After another successful war against Turks) there was an increasing pilgrimage to Hostýn. So the new basilica was build in the years 1721-1748 together with Via Crucis, the pilgrims' hospice and other facilities.
Another chapel was build next to the spring of "holy water", which is believed by some to possess a healing effect. This led to the nickname "Moravian Lourdes" for Hostýn. From the place of spring to the basilica a stairway made of 240 steps was constructed in 1909.
In 1903 a new open-air Stations of the Cross were build by the architect Dušan Jurkovič and together with the basilica are main sights of the region attracting not only the catholic pilgrims but also thousands of tourists every year. Their highest number was in August 1912 when the main statue of Virgin Mary was coronated by the golden crone blessed in Rome by the pope Pius X. The total number of pilgrims and other visitors was then estimated 200 thousands within ten days.
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