“… let’s see Maria, there is a true paradise!” – Marian pilgrimage chants

July 16, 2023, procession from the Chapel of the Wounded Jesus to the Stone Gate

In the program of this year’s International Folklore Fair, which places living heritage and the remembrance of the Purchase Expedition, i.e. the journey, at the center of its events, with a thematic concert of church music, we also want to go down the path of living heritage and religious travel – pilgrimage. The incentive for pilgrimage has long attracted intending travelers in which the oral tradition as well as patterns of behavior during the pilgrimage in spontaneous transmission form the backbone of maintaining the traditional heritage. According to research by Marijana Belaj (2012), every pilgrimage reflects social processes and historical events, unites symbols, beliefs, experiences and practices. At the beginning of the Homeland War, in the midst of war destruction, Msgr. Josip Frkin, then pastor of the Parish of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Velika Gorica, vowed that, if Velika Gorica remains unscathed, every first Saturday in September, he would walk with the parishioners to Marija Bistrica. The former parish pilgrimage turned into a vow pilgrimage of Turopolje, which the believers of Turopolje especially love and keep even today in memory of the vow of the dear pastor. That is why, with a concert program of Marian pilgrimage chants, we want to remember a traditional heritage that has its own history, and is also part of a living heritage that lasts. Marian chants and chants after Christmas are among the most popular church chants. Given that they are transmitted orally, they have become part of the Marian folk church repertoire. Most of these tunes are in fact original works that have lost track of their origins over time. The method of performance and many years of performance practice slightly modified them and distanced them from their initial form. Indispensable chants such as You are beautiful, Hear us Mother, O, dear heavenly mother, O, Mary, star of the sea, O, wonderful Virgin, We want God, Hello Virgin, Asking to the sun, etc., performed by pilgrims with religious enthusiasm on their pilgrimage to the National the shrine in Mariju Bistrica can also be heard in other Marian shrines in Croatia, as well as during Marian church holidays.

As a result of many years of performance practice, Marian chants have become part of the repertoire of folklore groups and societies that are very happy to include them in their permanent program. Therefore, it is not uncommon to hear that Marian chants are performed with the instrumental accompaniment of a tambura band, which was not the case in the not-so-distant past. Today, as in the past, the songs are performed a cappella or in the sacred space accompanied by the organ, harmonium, less often the digital piano and the mentioned tambourines. Newly composed original Marian songs that rely on traditional musical heritage and performance practice are also interesting in some local communities. Exactly one such Marian song will be presented in this year’s program by the members of the KUD “Pokupljanka” from Brest Pokupski. Special attention is drawn to the pilgrim’s litany song Majko Božja Bistrička, which was created by many years of musical interpretation by believers in the moment of inspiration and religious ecstasy. In the language of the folk poet, the song “Majko Božja Bistrica” ​​is a textual extension of the Lauretan litanies of the Blessed Virgin Mary, created in northwestern Croatia. The textual template of the pilgrim’s litany has been adapted over time to the faithful’s enthusiasm, needs, feelings and experiences. This is how the experience of a pilgrim’s walk/path is described in the verse We went through the mountains to a distant place, to see Mary, there is the real paradise, according to the saying of the singers from Donja Lomnica.

What deeply connects Turopolje and Pokuplje in a material sense is the architecture of wooden churches and chapels. Their beauty and construction ingenuity speak for themselves. They are a reminder of the past, reflecting the breath of the past woven into our present. The architecture of the wooden chapels was one of the incentives for organizing this program. The city of Zagreb and Velika Gorica have been closely connected throughout history. Nowadays, the arrival and departure of intending passengers goes through Zagreb’s Franjo Tuđman Airport, until recently Pleso Airport. It extends over the area of ​​the former village of Pleso, today the city district of Velika Gorica. Like everything in life, choosing the location and time of the concert program is not accidental. The village of Pleso is widely known for the wooden chapel of the Wounded Jesus, and this concert program will begin with a procession from the chapel of the Wounded Jesus in the Zagreb skyscraper located on Ban Josip Jelačić Square. In the war year 1991, the commemoration of the 260th anniversary of the existence of the Stone Gate shrine was completed. In 1991, the then Archbishop and Metropolitan of Zagreb, Cardinal Franjo Kuharić, declared the Mother of God of the Stone Gate to be the patroness of the City of Zagreb. In the same year, by the intercession of Msgr. Josip Frkin Turopoljes begin their votive pilgrimage to Mariju Bistrica. All this together was an exceptional incentive to connect the City of Zagreb, Turopolje, wooden chapels, church chants and Pokuplje into one and be a witness of living heritage within the framework of the International Folklore Festival. The stone gate is an inevitable spiritual oasis in the city center that will be the musical center of church singing for every intending traveler or passerby.

This year’s program of church music will be attended by members of the KUD “Nova zora” from Donja Lomnica; members of the Buševec Branch of Peasant Harmony from Buševec; Folk ensemble “Šiljakovina” from Šiljakovina and members of KUD “Pokupljanka” from Brest Pokupski.

Tomislav Habulin, mag. Mus.

Program: Mother of God Bistrichka, litany pilgrimage song in the procession through Radićeva Street.

  1. Be happy Maria
  2.  I am a poor, unwilling creature
  3. You are beautiful, beautiful

Accompanied by tambourines Performed by the singer of KUD “Nova zora”, Donja Lomnica

  1. Hear us
  2. Mother Golden mums
  3. Oh, dear Heavenly Mother

Performed by members of KUD “Pokupljanka”, Brest Pokupski

  1. Dear mother, humanity is begging you
  2. A tribute to the Mother of God
  3. I am a poor, unwilling creature

Performed by members of FA “Šiljakovina”, Šiljakovina

  1. O Mary, star of the sea / Dear Mother, Virgin of the world
  2. Oh, beautiful Virgo
  3. Queen mighty Mother pious

Performed by members of the Buševec Branch of the Peasant Harmony, Buševec