Our Lady of Sinj
||This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. (February 2013)|
||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (February 2013)|
Our Lady of Sinj (Croatian: Gospa sinjska) is the title given to the painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy in Sinj, venerated as miraculous in the Cetina district. Mary is described as the queen of heaven and earth and set on the throne of "her goodness, love and charity". The Sinj sanctuary is famous all around the world wherever there are Croats. Numerous pilgrims come to receive Gospa's mercy.
Experts suppose that the painting was painted by an unknown Venetian artist in the 16th century. The painting was originally located in Sinj. In 1536 Sinj fell into Turkish hands and the painting was moved to Rama (Herzegovina) where it remained until 1687. The supposed miraculous powers of the painting were discovered during the period that the painting was in Rama. The Turks were raiding in Bosnia. They burned houses, monasteries and devastated everything. Because of the danger Franciscans were running away from Rama. They took with them the painting which was their consolation, defense and help. Finally in 1687, the painting came to Sinj and has stayed there to the present day. It is kept in the Franciscan monastery of the Franciscan Province of the Most Holy Redeemer.
Special devotion to this painting began in the most difficult period of Croatian history, in the time of fighting against the Turks.
The borders were never peaceful. On August 7, 1715 the Turks started to attack Sinj. The Turkish army under the leadership of Mehmed Pasha[disambiguation needed] were more numerous and better armed than the defenders of Sinj. The battle finished on August 15, 1715 when the defenders of Cetina finally beat the Turkish military. The defenders of Sinj were convinced that Our Lady Mary (Miracle Painting from the Sinj church) gave them strength for their victory. Also, the Turkish army was significantly weakened by disease which was raging among them. All were convinced that was also God’s deed. It is written that the Ottomans saw a woman in light and were frightened by it.
That is the reason why in the town of Sinj, the holiday of the Assumption of Mary (Croatian: Velika Gospa) on August 15, is always specially respected and celebrated. Special pride in their achievement was taken by the surviving defenders who in commemoration of their victory instituted the Alka tournament.
As a sign of thanksgiving, the military officers of the Sinj army had the gold crown with cross made to ornament the Miraculous Painting. In 1716 Kupili, Archbishop of Split, crowned the Painting.
It is believed that the Blessed Virgin Mary has been helping her pilgrims ever since, not only in the general common needs of the town and Cetina district (during war, against plague, drought, earthquake), but also in different specific individual needs. The people from Sinj and Cetina district, as a sign of gratitude and love, gave a wreath of 12 silver stars to their patroness. Every year on 2 July that wreath is set on the altar of the Holy Mother and a solemn mass of thanks is said. Pilgrims give the most precious presents to their patroness and from these gifts decorate the Miraculous Painting of the Blessed Virgin Mary.