On Sunday, June 21, 2020, the 50th anniversary of the canonization of St. Nicholas TAVELIĆ was celebrated at the saint’s shrine in the city of Šibenik, Croatia.
Fifty years ago, in Rome, Pope St. Paul VI solemnly proclaimed the holiness of our Franciscan confrere. This year, there was a solemn celebration in Šibenik, presided over by the Most Reverend Giorgio LINGUA, Apostolic Nuncio to Croatia.
Devotion to the saint is still alive today, especially at his national shrine in Šibenik, as it is in all of Croatia and among his compatriots living abroad. However, due to the ongoing pandemic, not all the faithful who wished to participate in the celebration were able to come to the shrine. Still, there were plenty of Bishops and Ministers Provincial of the Franciscan families who concelebrated, along with Friar Josip BLAŽEVIĆ, the Minister Provincial of our Province of St. Jerome in Croatia.
In his homily, Archbishop LINGUA recalled that the saint’s canonization fifty years ago was an extraordinary event for Croatians everywhere. Even today, St. Nicholas, Croatia’s first canonized saint, is seen by believers as a witness of the faith until martyrdom and an example of a life offered completely to Christ. “We ask St. Nicholas to protect this nation,” the Nuncio concluded, “so that it may remain faithful to the faith of its fathers.”
The Custos of the Custody of the Orient and the Holy Land, Friar Francesco PATTON, OFM, was unable to attend the celebration. Instead, he sent a letter expressing the love and devotion that the Croatian people, and the faithful in Šibenik in particular, have towards St. Nicholas and his companions—martyrs who carried out their missionary call in Jerusalem to the point of giving their lives.
St. Nicholas TAVELIĆ was born around 1340, in an aristocratic family in Šibenik. He entered the Friars Minor and served as a missionary in Bosnia and the Holy Land, where he suffered martyrdom on November 14, 1391, together with three companions.
St. Nicholas has inspired many artists. For this particular occasion, a statue of the saint was made by sculptor Vid VUČAK. It was blessed at the end of the Mass.
In addition to the celebration, an exhibition was opened, entitled, “Croatian Saints and the Blessed in Our Nation” by the young artist Eva VUKINA. A documentary was then presented entitled “Nicholas Tavelić: Fifty Years of Holiness”, by the writer Neno KUŽINA. Finally, a Croatian postage stamp featuring the image of St. Nicholas was made for the occasion. It was designed by Arijana NORŠIĆ.
Photo: Ivo KRONJA