4th Antunovski hod Mladih in Zagreb highlights religious tourism in Croatia
June 16, 2022 – “Love is the soul of faith.” With this in mind, thousands of young people participated in the 4th Antunovski hod Mladih in Zagreb.
Religious tourism is not something new in Croatia, in fact it has a long history thanks to pilgrimages and sacred sites. Saint Anthony of Padua, for example, known as the “Saint of the whole world”, is particularly honored by Croats. Therefore, on June 11, exactly one week after the spiritual and musical performance “Progledaj srcem” at the Maksimir stadium, thousands of believers from several regions of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Austria, Germany and Switzerland went to Zagreb for the 4th “Antunovski hod mladih” (trans. “Anthony’s youth march”). We could also meet people who do not speak Croatian.
For Saint Anthony’s Day on June 13, thousands of pilgrims – mostly young generations – walked about 16 km from Saint Anthony’s Church in Sesvetska Sela to Saint Anthony’s Church in Sveti Duh in Zagreb.
With the 1st “Antunovski hod mladih” in 2019, this pilgrimage has already become a tradition that attracts more and more young people every year. While last year the march saw at least 2,000 participants, in 2022 there were around 3,000 or more. As one often hears complaints about young people’s lack of interest in faith and religion, this march showed the strength of unity and love under the motto “Love is the soul of faith “, one of the most popular quotes from the Saint.
It all started with the Holy Mass at 1 p.m. in front of the Church of St. Anthony in Sesvetska Sela, after which the pilgrims, including more than 100 young musicians, dancers, percussionists and other volunteers, headed for the Dubrava of Zagreb. As this is probably the most difficult part of the whole route, a short break with refreshments prepared by brothers from Herzegovina awaited them there. They reformed a 2 km column across the entire capital, with the main square in the center being their next destination.
On Ban Josip Jelačić Square, thousands of people celebrated with their prayers and songs. After walking for about 5 hours in the sun, some assumed the pilgrims were tired, but in the city center their performance was taken to another level. The volunteers prepared a dance and a number, attended by one of the main organizers and the priest Stjepan Brčina, sending a strong message to remain united and to be strong in forgiveness, love and service. The whole point was to encourage people to get out of the framework that they had set themselves or that others had set for them.
Finally, around 8 p.m., the pilgrims arrived at the Church of St. Anthony in Sveti Duh, where already hundreds of fellow citizens were waiting for them and greeted them with applause and cheers. The 4th “Antunovski hod mladih” then concluded with Eucharistic adoration and a celebration afterwards. Of course, after this walk, people were certainly a little tired physically, but at the same time spiritually very strong, filled with happiness, gratitude and love.
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