Our Lady On The Rocks Catholic Church – Montenegro
The final morning in Montenegro, we headed 15 minutes up the road to Perast.
Off the coast of Perast in Boka Bay is an artificial man-made island in which the Roman Catholic Church of ‘Our Lady on the Rocks’ is located.
This particular Catholic Church in Montenegro has a VERY interesting story…
In order to get there, we parked in Perast and hopped on a little boat with a local.
According to legend, the island of ‘Lady on the Rocks’ Church was created over the centuries by local seamen who kept an ancient oath after finding an icon of a Madonna and child on the rock in the sea on July 22, 1452 in that spot.
It is said that they took the icon home and overnight, one of the seaman whose leg had been crippled, was healed.
They took this as a sign and vowed to build a church on the spot.
Upon returning from each successful voyage, the local seamen laid a rock in the Boka Bay in the same spot every time.
Over time, the island gradually emerged from the sea by throwing in tons and tons of rocks and by sinking old and seized ships loaded with rocks.
The interior of the church contains a marble altar, a stunning painted ceiling and a museum with thousands of gifts/handmade items which worshippers have left as a token of thanks for answered prayers made to the patron saint.
Many say that when you make a wish while touching the rock behind the altar, your wish will be granted…. so we joined in the tradition and squeezed behind this giant altar in single-filed line.
Tripo Kokolja, the “Michaelangelo of Perast”, painted 68 stunning pictures throughout the ceiling and walls of the Cathedral– The central part of the ceiling is a pictures of the Ascension of Our Lady, and part of the Crowning of Mary and the Death of Mary.
In addition, the church walls were lined with over 2,500 small silver votive tablets given by sailors as a way to say thanks for guiding them through safe voyages.
One of the most interesting gifts to ‘Our Lady of the Rocks’ is a tapestry embroidered by a woman that was waiting for her sailor husband to return from the sea for more than 25 years(!!)
It is said that eventually she became blind and although there are a few different versions of this story, the tapestry is particularly famous because the lady used her own actual hair for the angel’s hair over 25 years, and it starts out brown then you can see it fade to strands of grey.
The museum houses artifacts and a treasure of gifts from all over the world, such as pottery and porcelain. They were gifts of gratitude from the people to Our Lady of Rocks, because she kept them safe on the long, dangerous journeys.
The custom of throwing rocks into the sea is alive even nowadays. Every year on the sunset of July 22 with an event called fašinada, local residents take their boats and throw rocks into the sea, widening the surface of the island.
Our Lady of the Rocks is definitely worth a visit if you’re in Montenegro– Even the boat ride back to the parking lot was incredible across the Bay of Kotor!
After getting back to land, we loaded up on croissants and coffee and hit road, headed back towards Croatia.
Driving the Bay of Kotor was an amazing sight to see!
*As an added bonus, the drive was riddled with gems like these— a natural waterfall flowing from the mountainside on the side of the road.
With another passport stamp, we crossed another border and headed north to Croatia.
Next stop –> Destination #11: Dubrovnik, Croatia 🇭🇷