A unique historical, cultural, ethnographic and sacral treasure is kept in the town of Vodnjan, containing around 300 relics of various saints with incorrupted bodies: archbishop Saint Leon Bembo (+1188.), priest Saint John Olini (+1300.), Benedictine abbess Saint Nikoloza Bursa (+1512), and other smaller incorrupted fragments of the officer Saint Sebastian (+282),the virgin and martyr Saint Barbara (+288) and the penitent Saint Mary of Egypt (+522). At a CT scan in 2009, it was established that the bodies of Saint John Olini and Saint Nikoloza Bursa were preserved with all of their internal organs. The bodies were not embalmed, and according to the opinions of experts, because of their incorruptibility, they are a one of a kind specimen of self-preservence in the world.
The aforementioned saints and relics originated from the entire Roman Empire, of which 266 lived before the year 1050, that is before the establishment of the Orthodox and Protestant churches, and therefore they are the heritage of the entire Christian civilisation. Among them, there are the relics of 41 women saints who first began an emancipation of women in an era where women were, unfortunately, only adornments.
Only those who had performed miracles during or after their lifetime are proclaimed saints. A miracle is not only unexplainable healing or deliverance from ensuing danger but also larger moral miracles when a saint restores the balance between body, soul and spirit within another, who then starts living a balanced life. This means that the saints who humanity has recognized, remain teachers and models for all time and for all generations. Memories of them are to be kept as leaders of humanity, propagating their ideas, their life and their philanthropy.
We invite scholars of all disciplines to explore what has been preserved here amid historical circumstances: human remains, textiles, parchments, tabernacles, glass, written materials, minerals, pollen, all different material remains that can tell a story about their lives, work, and even of the travels of their bodily remains.
The Parish of Vodnjan has until now done everything in its power to protect this unique treasure. With this goal in mind, in 2012 the Holy bodies were moved to new chambers where they are protected from micro-climate conditions of relative humidity and other external influences. Alongside this, the idea of an appropriate public exhibition area has crept up. The idea of a crypt beneath the Parish Church had already originated 20 years ago. Architect Slaven Cetina, together with parish priest Marijan Jelenić, elaborated on a concept for the crypt. It would span approx 400 square metres which would, with the church’s annex of 800 square metres, become a dignified exhibition space.
At this moment, the exact value of such an investment could not be given because of many undefined items such as certain missing unopened sarcophagi parts or excavation work conformed to the requests of the curators and research time frames. The approximate value of the investment project would come to approx. EUR 10,000.000. The parish, the local administration, the county and the Republic of Croatia are not able to finance the aforementioned investment. Nonetheless, having seen the examples of online donations, we believe that with the participation and contribution of those who will visit this website, we could begin with the implementation of the aforementioned project in phases towards its final completion. Donators will help the construction of this unique shrine which will ultimately also become their monument.
All people of goodwill that are ready to help in the construction of this unique pilgrimage destination can do so with a donation.