Gospa od Utocišta, Aljmaš, Osijek-Baranja, Slavonia, Croatia
The Catholics of Aljmaš in northeastern Croatia have been devoted to Our Lady of Consolation since 1704, when her statue arrived there as a refugee. Repeatedly, they have responded to disaster, oppression, and destruction by restoring her shrine. They have often needed her consolation.
In 1697, Jesuits purchased a statue of Our Lady, depicted with crown, scepter, and child, for their church in Lug, in northeastern Croatia. Seven years later, after Calvinists took over the village and church, the Jesuits moved the statue to a wattle-and-daub thatched church in Aljmaš 10 miles south. Catholics began making pilgrimages to Our Lady of Consolation in Aljmaš, especially on Marian feast days. In 1708, a new church was begun there, dedicated in 1715. When fire destroyed church, statue, and much of the town in 1846, a copy of the statue was placed in a shrine about five miles away in a linden grove, near a spring. Our Lady under the Linden became a pilgrimage destination in turn. Meanwhile, the church in Aljmaš was rebuilt, and in 1857 Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer gave it a new statue made in Vienna. Devotions continued in both places for nearly 100 years until the Communist era (1945-1990), when pilgrimages were banned. Then on August 1, 1991, Serbian forces gutted the church and much of the town. The next year, Our Lady's damaged statue was found in the ruins and moved to the city of Osijek nearby. On August 1, 1998, the image returned to Aljmaš. On August 1, 2003, it revisited Osijek to be crowned by Pope John Paul II. Marin Sarkac, Bishop of Djakovo and Srijem, dedicated the rebuilt Church of Our Lady of Consolation on August 1, 2004. (Information and picture from the shrine's site, Svetište Gospe od Utocišta u Aljmašu, www.svetiste-aljmas.hr.)
Also commemorated this date: