The legend of Our Lady of the Rocks

Katarina Kalicanin | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Two little islets floating in front of Perast are the symbols and the main attractions of the Bay of Kotor. One of them, Gospa od Skrpjela (Our Lady of the Rocks), stands out in its beauty, but the legend behind its name makes it even more enchanting.

Our Lady of the Rocks is an artificial island created in XV century. According to the legend, on 22nd July 1452, two brothers from Perast, both fishermen, found an icon of the Virgin with Christ on the sea-cliff. They brought it home but tomorrow morning it was gone. It appeared at the same sea-cliff, so two brothers took it home one more time. The same thing happened - the icon disappeared again and reappeared on the sea-cliff.

They understood this as a Virgin's wish to stay there forever. They vowed to build a church dedicated to this icon of the Virgin, the patron saint of seafarers and fishermen.

A small island was made by people from Perast who were trowing rocks and stones around the cliff. In the center of the island they built a little chapel. For centuries, in traditional event called Fasinada, held every year on 22nd July, they were dropping stones and over time the surface of the island has grown. Now, in the center of the island is a catholic Church of Our Lady of the Rocks. Fasinada is still held annually. People in a procession of boats drop the stones at the site.

The church is particularly significant because of a numerous artifacts. There are 68 paintings of Tripo Kokolja - a famous XVII-century baroque artist from Perast. Among the most impressive works is the one made by Jacinta Kunic from Perast. While waiting for her husband who was a sailor, to return from a long journey, she embroidered a tapestry of the Holy Virgin. She used golden and silver threads, but the most interesting fact is that she had actually embroidered her own hair in it. It took her 25 years to finish it, after which she became blind.

Inside the church is a marble altar built in 1796 by Antonio Kapelano, a sculptor from Genova. On the altar there is the icon of the Lady of the Rocks, painted by the famous painter Lovro Dobričević in the middle of the XV century.

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