The 3rd of February is a date that is ringed on every calendar in Dubrovnik. Since 972 the city has celebrated its patron saint and protector, St. Blaise. The doors of the city are flung wide open and people come from all over the region to mark this special day.
Whilst many cities all over the world have a patron saint it is relatively rare to find a city so connected and intertwined with its saint. St. Blaise, along with the emblem of the city, is an iconic symbol of Dubrovnik. His image can be found all through the ancient Old City and the main church inside the city walls bears his name. Quite simply Dubrovnik and St. Blaise are as one.
The festivities begin on the 2nd of February with a Candlemas when white doves are released from the steps of the St. Blaise Church as a sign of peace and freedom. And on this day the banner of St. Blaise is raised from Orlando’s Column.
At dawn on the 3rd of February the masters of ceremonies, or the Festanjuli, gather in the city as well as the Dubrovnik Musketeers and the flag bearers await at the gates of the city. People come from all over the Dubrovnik – Neretva County and carry the flags and banners of their parish.
The people of Dubrovnik have worshiped St. Blaise as their patron saint since the second half of the 10th century. From the time of the first Venetian attempts to take over the territory, when St. Blaise inspired the priest Stojko to warn the city fathers of the deceitful intent of Venice.
St Blaise permeated and united all of life in Dubrovnik throughout the centuries. He is present from the altar to the table, with his omnipresence in all spheres of life, among all social classes, and cultural space. Indeed, while other cities have their patron saint, in Dubrovnik it is the Saint that has his own City. Proof of this is found in the fact that the Festivity of St. Blaise is on UNESCO’s list of the world’s Intangible Cultural Heritage.