The richness of a nation and its people is not only testified by money and natural beauty, but also through cultural heritage. Folk tales, stories, myths and legends that have been passed on for centuries from generation to generation, talk about past times showing how people used to live and what did they believed in, leaving the reader and listener to get to know part of their cultural wealth in all its glory. One part of this cultural wealth belongs to the island of Korcula.
Religious celebration of Assumption of the Virgin Mary on 15th August is a national holiday celebrated through whole Croatia. This holiday is also specially celebrated in town Korcula and every year it gathers believers from Korcula, Lumbarda, Orebic and other surrounding villages to celebrate Our Lady of the Isle, which according to legend, on August 15th 1571. helped people of Korcula to defend themselves against Turkish attacks.
Something before the Battle of Lepanto, 15th August 1571, the Turkish fleet with about twenty ships under the guidance of commander Uluz Ali, arrived in Korcula’s bay in order to take the city. Although the city at that time was under the rule of Venice, the prince and mercenaries fled. Inhabitants of Korcula were left alone but they soon organized and the defense of the town was led by the priest Antun Rozanovic. In his diary Rozanovic wrote that it was the early morning on the day of the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Bell ringer of the main church has just reached the top of the bell tower to celebrate the feast, but only as a bell struck twice he saw the approaching enemy fleet. In a minute the city was gripped by a panic. Many people fled through the cannon holes or threw themselves down the walls, and the city echoed with cry.
Priest Anton and his brother Vicko managed to close the wall openings through which people were escaping, they set the cannons along the walls and encouraged the scared inhabitants for fight. A small but resourceful defense managed to resist the Turkish fleet, and according to legend, all thanks to help of Our Lady of the Isle. Waiting for the Turkish attack Anton Rozanic went to church to pray for help in front of her painting. According to legend she has heard his prayers and sent heavy storm that damaged the Turkish ships and blew them away from the walls. That is how few brave inhibitors of Korcula, despite strength of the Turkish fleet, inflicted them a great loss. This victory people of Korcula consider as one of the most important dates in town’s history.
Painting, in front of which priest Anton has prayed, today is kept in the Abbey Treasury in Korcula, and every year on 15th of August main mass takes place on island Badija, near town Korcula. Votive mass is always preceded by a procession with the painting of Our Lady of the Isle and everyone is welcome to come and join the celebration.