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Istria Sights

Crkva svetog Blaža (St. Blaise's Church)

  • Sv.Roka 4
  • Vodnjan
  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

Updated 10/06/2014

Fodor's Review

From the tourist office on the main square, stroll down ulica Castello to Crkva svetog Blaža, an 18th-century structure built in the style of architect Palladio that not only has the highest campanile in all of Istria but is also the unlikely home of the mummies or mummified body parts of six saints impressively preserved without embalming. Though some see divine intervention behind their state of preservation, the degree to which these saints are really intact—they are definitely chipping away at the edges, it must be said—is open to question. Among the best-preserved of the saints are St. Nicolosa Bursa and Leon Bembo the Blessed. Nicolosa, whose relatively elastic skin and overall postmortem presentableness have given her the distinction of being among the best-preserved human bodies in Europe, was born in Koper (Istria) in the 15th century and developed a reputation for holiness as a nun in Venice and elsewhere; she's the one with the garland of flowers still on her head. Leon

Bembo the Blessed was a 12th-century Venetian priest who was tortured to the point of disfigurement in religious riots while ambassador to Syria, and spent his final years back in Venice in monastic contemplation. And then there is St. Sebastian, a Roman officer-turned-Christian who was whipped and strangled around AD 288 in Rome after initially surviving torture by arrows. The head, spinal column, neck muscles, and related parts of this very famous saint are on display here. As for St. Barbara, from 3rd-century Nicomeda (in present-day Turkey), only her leg remains; she so disagreed with her father's pagan, slave-keeping lifestyle that he personally killed her with a sword, though legend has it that he was then promptly struck by lightning and turned to ashes. Admittance to the mummy room, behind the main altar, includes an English-language recording that sums up the saints' lives and roads to mummihood.

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Sight Information

Address:

Župni ured Sv Blaža, Sv.Roka 4, Vodnjan, 52215, Croatia

Phone:

052-511–420

Sight Details:

  • 35 Kn
  • June–Sept., daily 9:30–1 and 2:30–6:30

Updated 10/06/2014

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