Even for those not religious, churches hold some mystical and mysterious appeal that’s so hard to resist. And if we go back to the foggy past, we immediately get fascinated with how man’s life has always revolved around religion. So we read of Iris, Zeus, and Apollo—not as entities who were ensconced in the skies—but as those whose existence was intimately tied up with the soul and spirit of their human devotees. As a result, people regarded devotion to their several gods as the most sacred duty.
Beautiful structures were erected in their honor. Costly sacrifices were offered to entreat their blessings. Life revolved around their mystical omnipresence. Even the word culture, we’re told, evolved from the word cult: people banding together for worship and spawning the development of a structured community. As a throwback to that mystical past, St. Euphemia’s Church in Croatia is a rich historical gem that’s worth visiting.
The Infatuating Allure Of St. Euphemia’s Church In Croatia
Located at the peak of Rovinj, a picturesque Croatian city nestled on the west coast of the Istrian peninsula, the Church of St. Euphemia has a geospatial bearing that is evidently heavenward. It seems, like its many gods, a little removed from the earth. It's not the only church that is otherworldly, but this one is unique.
Of course, there was a practical reason for this structural elevation. Historically, the lower regions of the historic Old Town used to be more swampy and marshy; hot and humid.
Health-wise, it was a breeding haven for several disease vectors. It looks like the phrase “cleanliness is next to godliness,” attributed to Methodist founder John Wesley—was well understood by men living in classical antiquity as well as those living in the medieval period.
While that position had a practical purpose, and perhaps a spiritual one as well, today, that position serves a more aesthetic objective.
Sensational views over the Adriatic Sea stretch out on the western side of the church—revealing a picturesque coastline—that someone will want eternally etched in their memory.
Standing on the ruins of much older churches, the most notable architectural element of St. Euphemia’s Church is its 61-meter-high bell tower. Surprisingly, while the church was constructed between 1725 and 1736, this bell tower is even older than the church.
When one enters the church, impressive artworks and fascinating ceiling frescoes will momentarily steal the attention. Images of saints, marble-rich alters, and stone statues adorn the 30-by-51meter edifice.
- How Much Is The Admission/Entry Fee For Viewing Or Touring St. Euphemia’s Church? This building is a church. So admission is free except for the tower.
On the right side of the main altar is the Altar of St. Euphemia, the patron saint of the town. It is said that there’s a sarcophagus where the body of St. Euphemia rests.
There’s also a statue of St. Euphemia on top of the bell tower that, like the earth, revolves around its axis.
The Mystical And Mythical Story Of St. Euphemia
Believed to have been the daughter of a Roman senator who was in charge of Chalcedon, Euphemia was reportedly tortured for her faith by Diocletian, the Roman emperor who oversaw perhaps the severest persecution of Christians in all history.
Left with several wounds but still refusing to change her allegiance, she was subsequently thrown to the lions in some arena around AD 304. But here’s the mystery. The lions would only lick her wounds.
Unfortunately, a bear later attacked her and the wounds it inflicted would this time prove fatal.
Mysteriously, Euphemia’s bones found their way to Rovinj. How they appeared in Rovinj is a rich concoction of speculation, myth, and legend—with just a little grain, if any, of truth.
What appears to be true is that Euphemia’s sarcophagus was first taken to Constantinople. Apparently, this was to avoid being destroyed or plundered by Persians.
Later, iconoclasts would descend on Europe with fanatical fury. To preserve Euphemia’s remains, the sarcophagus later mysteriously found its way to Rovinj.
It’s said that two sailors were caught up in a storm. Facing the prospect of drowning, they prayed fervently for deliverance. Later, their boat would land at an inlet near Rovinj. Suddenly a bright light shone over the waters, revealing a floating object which would promptly sink out of sight.
Frustrated by the search to retrieve the object, a widow’s dream—about what needed to be done—would come in handy. With the help of an ox, they would pull the sarcophagus from the waters and take it to the town’s highest point, where it currently rests.
- Where Is The Church of St. Euphemia Located? The physical address of St. Euphemia Church is Trg Sv. Eufemije, 52210, Rovinj, Croatia.
St. Euphemia's Church is beautiful even if its origins travel the gamut from the mysterious to the mystical. One of the best experiences is the climb on the old wooden steps right up to the church’s tower.
The stunning views of the Adriatic Sea below will more than reward visitors for the effort.