Location: Stradun; Luža Square
Built: between 1705 and 1717
Style: Baroques style
Architect: Marino Gropelly
- artfacts including gold-plated silver statue of St. Blaise
- stained glass
The Church of St. Blaise is situated in the heart of the City, in the most beautiful street in the world and the main artery of Dubrovnik - Placa, called Stradun for its size. Dedicated to the patron saint of Dubrovnik, the church has symbolized the survival of this fairy-tale city for centuries. St. Blaise became the patron of the City-Republic a long time ago.
The legend says that he protected Dubrovnik from the attack of Venetian galleys in 971 A. D. Early in the 18th century the baroque church was built on the foundations of an old Romanesque 14th century church. Having survived the great earthquake in 1667, the latter was unfortunately destroyed on Whit Sunday in 1706 in a huge fire caused by the candles that initially burned the wooden interior and then spread to the structure itself. The sacristy was the only part that survived. Interestingly enough, the only saved object of the immensely rich collection of artwork and liturgical items was a silver statue of the blessed martyr Blaise (according to the writing on the church plate), found intact under the ashes. This magnificent silver and gold-plated statue of the patron, manufactured in one of the widely-known goldsmith workshops of Dubrovnik in the first half of the 15th century, still stands in the main altar of the church.
The new baroque church was built by local constructors from 1707 - 1715, based on the design of the renowned Venetian architect and sculptor Marino Groppelli, who made the main marble altar himself, the St Peter's statue above the sacristy door, and the statue of John the Baptist above the main entrance. Groppelli also created the statues of St. Blaise, Faith and Hope on the top of the façade, as well as the Angel above the portal. A large number of art objects that also have a liturgical function have been preserved. The church has two side altars: the altar of St. Cross to the left, like the one that used to stand in the Romanesque church, and the altar of St. Lucia with the paintings of Madonna with the Infant, St. Blaise and St. Emigdi, protector from the earthquake, works by the local painter Josip Rossi (19th century). Dubrovnik is situated in a seismically active region, so the faithful installed yet another patron (St. Emigdi) to protect them from calamity.
The aisles, of which the one to the right is the sacristy, contain paintings, crucifixes, silver receptacles, mass vestments and porcelain ornaments, mainly from the 18th century. These art objects were provided at the time when the church was rebuilt. Five relics of St Blaise are now kept at the reliquary of the Cathedral of Assumption, encased in luxurious silver frames shaped like a crown, hands, a leg and a monstrance dating back to the 11th, 12th, 14th and 15th century, respectively.
The art objects from the 19th and 20th century testify to the continuous care of the parish priests and the congregation for their church. Thus, a statue of St. Blaise made by the great Croatian modern sculptor Ivan Meštovie was installed next to the renaissance statues of St. Blaise and St. Jerome made in the 15th century by Nikola Lazanie, the renowned sculptor from the Island of Brae. The interior of the church is illuminated in a special way by the rays of light coming through the fine stained-glass windows painted by the famous local painter Ivo Dulcie in the mid-20th century. There are many paintings of saints by lesser-known Italian painters on the church walls. In the old sacristy to the right there is an interesting 18th century oil painting of an earthquake destroying the houses, palaces and clock towers of Dubrovnik, with St. Blaise pleading for mercy for his City. It illustrates the long-term bond between the residents of Dubrovnik and their protector that has continued until the present day. They dedicated one of the major churches to St. Blaise, and installed his statue on every public building, fortress and façade and the city walls. In return the old bishop and patron has been protecting his city for centuries. During the aggression against Croatia, St. Blaise's Church was hit several times and its façade, the stairway with a balustrade, the portal, the stained-glass windows and the roof were damaged. During one of the most severe bombardments of the City on 6th December 1991, the residents of Dubrovnik asked the city authorities to uncover one of the statues of St. Blaise, that was previously panelled in wood to protect it from damage, so that he could protect and bring peace back to Dubrovnik once more.
Author: Kate Bagoje