Maria Bistrica

Bottles of
Bottles of "holy water" and a money
box inside the basilica.

I'm always suspicious of so-called "holy places"; in my experience there is usually a good deal of superstition associated with them and I'm afraid that Maria Bistrica was no exception. Bottles of holy water on sale in the church, the elaborately adorned image being adored by pilgrims, frescoes depicting the miracles wrought by the aforesaid image - including one man delivered from a dragon!

And yet one cannot deny the power of faith, the simple faith of the people who flocked to the shrine and who believed implicitly that their prayers were answered. There were, after all, hundreds of marble slabs attached to the walls by people grateful for answered prayers.

So what's going on? Does God - the Protestant Christian version, of course - answer prayers offered at such a place or are all these people suffering from a delusion? You might be surprised by the answer.