IF ON A hike from Bratislava into the Malé Karpaty (Small Carpathians) you notice numerous ancient crosses and statues of saints, you are probably on one of the pilgrimage trails that lead from Rača or Svätý Jur, to Marianka.
The old Marianka monastery in this enchanting valley is one of the best-known places of pilgrimage in the country, along with Šaštín in the West, Levoča in the East, and Staré Hory, in Central Slovakia.
It was founded in 1377 by Ľudovít the Great, confirming the location as a holy place. Pilgrims had been coming here since 1030, when a small statue of the Virgin Mary (after which the monastery is named), was discovered in the valley.
Pavlíni monks ran the monastery, serving the valley's community for 400 years until Emperor Joseph II abolished their order in 1786.
After suffering Joseph II's hostility, Turkish aggression and communist victimization, this holy place is now hoping for a better future.
By Branislav Chovan,
Special to the Spectator
20. Dec 2004 at 0:00 | Beata Balogová