The Catholic Travel Guide
Montenegro: the Town of Perast and The Church of Our Lady of the Rocks
The area of the Balkans has had a tragic history as recently as the 1990's with the war in the former Yugoslavia. It is also one of Europe's most beautiful regions, with snow-capped mountains, pristine lakes and Adriatic coastline.
Now that war in the Balkans is (thankfully) becoming a distant memory, Montenegro remains somewhat undiscovered by many tourists which is good news for those with the opportunity to visit here.
Montenegro was under Venetian rule for many years and the town of Perast became a major trading port. However, once the Venetian empire crumbled and steam overtook sail on the high seas, the town gradually lost influence and population. Today it has a population of about 4,000 and is a wonderful place to visit without facing hordes of tourists.
Our Lady of the Rocks (Gospa od Škrpjela in Serbian):
This small man-made island near Perast hosts one of the country's most visited churches. The story goes back to the 15th Century when some fishermen found an icon of the Madonna and child. Making a promise to honor her, the fisherman began the practice of throwing a rock every time they returned and eventually this small islet was formed. Originally built as a Serbian Orthodox church in the 16th Century it then became a Catholic church in the 17th Century after the Venetian conquest.
Today the tradition of throwing the rocks continues. Every July 22 the local residents sail past the island and add to its size.
The church houses many paintings from a local artist, Tripo Kokolja, whose baroque style paintings are famous throughout the country.
You can take boats to the island for a reasonable cost. We are not aware of any official website for the Church at this time.
GPS coordinates: 42° 29' 12.1956'' N, 18° 41' 19.4280'' E
Photo courtesy Montenegro Tourism.