On Friday, September 16, 2022, His Eminence, Josip Cardinal BOZANIĆ, Archbishop of Zagreb, Croatia, presented Friar Miljenko HONTIĆ, the Minister Provincial of the Province of St. Jerome in Croatia, with the decree from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments declaring the Shrine Church of St. Anthony of Padua in Zagreb to be a “minor basilica.”
This year, the Friars Minor Conventual celebrate the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Holy Spirit Friary [also in Zagreb] and the 90th anniversary of the foundation of the Parish Church and Shrine of St. Anthony of Padua. The original promoters of the idea of declaring the shrine a “minor basilica” were the former Guardian of the friary at the shrine, Friar Tomislav GLAVNIK and the former Pastor, Friar Roko BEDALOV. The renovation of the shrine’s sanctuary, and the documentation of that process, was led by Friar Zlatko VLAHEK, Doctor of Liturgy.
The Friars Minor Conventual arrived in Zagreb in 1921, after being exiled from Cres, Croatia. In Zagreb, they built a friary next to the Church of the Holy Spirit. The friary was blessed on October 4, 1922, by the Most Reverend Antun BAUER, the then Archbishop of Zagreb. In 1931, construction on the Shrine of St. Anthony of Padua began in Zagreb, in honor of the 700th anniversary of the death of St. Anthony. The shrine was made a parish on January 1, 1932 and the first Mass in the new church was celebrated by the Coadjutor Archbishop of Zagreb, today known as Blessed Alojzije STEPINAC. In 1984, the interior of the church was completed and the church was consecrated by His Eminence, Franjo Cardinal KUHARIĆ on November 24 of that year.
The church was built according to the design of the famous architect Juraj DENZLER. It was conceived as a monumental basilica church with three naves, a combination of the ancient and modern basilica style. The exterior is built in rough stone, representing the soul of the Croatian people who have defied the merciless blows of history with their strength and tenacity.
In the Catholic Church, liturgically privileged churches are called basilicas. There is a difference between the “major basilicas,” that is, the four papal basilicas in Rome, and the “minor basilicas,” important churches in Rome and in the rest of the world. Since the second half of the 18th century, the honorary title of minor basilica has been awarded by the Pope, at the proposal of the Ordinary, to churches of greater significance in a city or diocese.
The Minister Provincial, Friar Miljenko HONTIĆ, remarked: “We are pleased that the pastoral and historical significance of this geographical site has been recognized and appreciated. This is an even greater incentive for the friars to serve our people even better at this special time.”
The Parish Church and Shrine of St. Anthony of Padua in Zagreb becomes the twenty-fifth Conventual Franciscan basilica and the third basilica in the Archdiocese of Zagreb. The date of the solemn celebration of Mass for the declaration of the minor basilica will be published later.
Friar Zlatko VLAHEK, Provincial Secretary