The interior of the church

Relief of Mercy

The altar of Sigismund

Saint Maksimiljan Kolbe

Way of the Cross
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The church walls

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The beauty of all churches

the mantled Virgin Mary -the protector

There are not many pilgrimage churches in Europe with the Virgin Mary spreading her merciful mantle so wide out and at the same time being located in such a magnificent sanctuary that many call quite justly an elevated poem of Gothic...

Ptujska Gora was first mentioned as a town in parish books in 1927 however the parish preserved the name Črna gora (Black Hill) for a whole century. The upkeep of the sanctuary was taken over by the Franciscan friars minor conventual in 1937. They also introduced the new name to the church.

Neustift (Nova Štifta) is the original name of the church mentioned in different documents (at later time). The name itself suggests that the church was built completely a new. The noblemen of Ptuj constructed it - most probably after taking their vows. The main founder is Bernard III of Ptuj who finished the construction around 1410.

Mons Gratiarum (Milostna Gora - Hill of Mercy) is a name dating back as early as around 1473. It proves that the church soon became established as a place of pilgrimage where the Virgin Mary gives shelter to all who are »tired and burdened« and both »rich and poor« who seek shelter under her mantle and she intercedes them mercy.

Črna Gora (Black Hill) is a name that stuck to the place throughout the centuries - ever since the Turkish invasions (the first half of the 15th century) until the last change of the parish's name in 1937. The legend has it that the Virgin Mary wrapped her church on the hill in a dark cloud to prevent the Turks from finding it. However the consequences of the Turkish invasions can still be seen today on some of the statues because the Turks cut off the limbs of some of the statues or damaged them in some other way.

»I rejoiced when they said - we are going to the lord's house«

The interior of the church is a pure Gothic with triple aisle uplifting space and rejoicing spirit, the altars, sacred images and other equipment on the other hand fill up the heart. This is a real treasure of Gothic statuary art from the beginning of the 15th century.

Relief of Mercy - the mantled virgin mary the protector (around 1410) is one of the greatest masterpieces of that time. Mary's image in the Baroque main altar graciously invites you to approach her. There are 82 figures under her mantle representing a precious collection of portraits of that time. Among them there is a portrait of Bernard III who founded Ptujska gora, his wife Valburga, two friars minor conventual, other representatives of nobility, church hierarchy and other people. Pray for us who come to you sounds from a living rock - it echoes in many hearts that still today seek shelter with the Virgin Mary the Protector with a mantle.
Throughout the centuries the graceful image reigned above the main entrance to the church (today there is a low bronze relief there) but in the Baroque period it was placed at the main altarwhere it is still today. The last major restoration works were done in 1980.

The altar of Celje of Frederic II of Celje in the southern apse is of a baldachino style. Originally it was probably located above the main altar and held the main position in the church. In the 18th century it was set up as a chapel by the church. It was placed in its resent position in 1955. This exquisite stonecutting piece from the circle of a universal artist Peter Perler regained its main position after the last sanctuary renovation as under its ribbed framework in the new tabernacle there is a home of the Lamb of God who take away the sins of the World.

Rosary altar is standing next to the second sheaf pillar on the left. There is the Mother of God with the Child sitting in the central part of a three-part stone altar accessory. Her right arm she used to hold the sceptre in was cut off. The statues of St. Catherine and St. Andrew are located in more narrow side niches. Artistic work dating back to the beginning of the 15th century is attributed to the successors of Peter Parler's artistic circle. Under the stone accessory there are donors kneeling down with their hands in prayer looking up at Mary. A psalmist says about her: Your lips are over flown with grace, and God blessed you forever and for all eternity.

The altar of Sigismund is leaning against the first pillar on the southern side. Its shape is similar to the Rosary altar but was made a little later. It holds the name of a saint like king Sigismund who has his own place in the central niche. St. Barbara and St. Erasmus are to the left and right respectively.

Saint James The statue of St. James, the apostle, can be found on the bracket of the medium sheaf pillar on the right side of the church. Originally it was sure to stand on its own altar. It is an exquisite example of typical gothic plastic and it represents the peak of Ptuj statuary workshop from the beginning of the 15th century. In his cut off hand he used to hold a traveller's stick and in his left hand he is holding a Bible with his letters in it and a reminder: May every man be fastwhen listening, slow when speaking, slow in anger ...

Saint Maximilian Kolbe was a friar minor conventual who gave his life in exchange of a father's life in Auschwitz, the camp of death, during World War II ... His portrait in low relief (Gojkovi~, 1986) can be seen in the first gothic wall niche on the southern side. The neighbouring niche shows the images of his life echoing in his words: Love lives and feeds on victims.

Other altars • The altar of Loreto (17th century) • The altar of the Sacred Family (18th century) • The altar of St. Mary the Immaculate Virgin (early Baroque) • The altar of St. Francis Ksaverij in the Baroque chapel from 1690

Baroque pulpit is a precious product of baroque carving from the mid 18th century and so are the two confessionals.

Saints on side walls - the Jesuits who were the sanctuary protectors for 160 years placed the main saints of their Order to the walls in sanctuary at the end of the 17th century: St. Ignacius, St. Francis Ksavier, St. Aloysius and St. Stanislaw. Later on also the members of an enlarged Holy Family were put on the side aisle walls.

Gothic frescos arewell preserved in the southern part of the space under the sanctuary - in the former Chapel of the Cross. They present images of the life of Jesus and other motives. St. Dorothy standing near the rose bush from which the child Jesus is picking flowers draws special attention. The person kneeling near her is probably a donor Mr. Nikolaj (+1424); the first chaplain on the Hill who also has a tombstone built in the backwall.

Stonecutting signs can be seen on all stonecutting parts outside and inside the church. These geometric signs are personal signatures of the stonecutters who cut stone according to the designs and received payment for theirwork. These signatures exceed 1000.puscica_desno.gif (935 bytes)

Stained-glass windows are the work of an academic painter Ida Brišnik-Remec (1981-82) and present the Conticle of the Sun by St. Francis of Assisi. Francis' poem Praise to God keeps reflecting in the sanctuary through the stained-glass windows; the changing light of the sun overflows it with the light of brother fire, the blue of sister water, the brown of sister earth, the gold of brother sun ...

Way of the Cross on the eastern wall of the church tower is the work of a local artist V. Gojkovič (1989).

Gothic reliefs Angel with coat of arms, Reverence of the three kings and Death of Mary are a part of the original church equipment (1410). They can be found in the Winter chapel located in the former defence tower.
Gothic church of the Mantled Virgin Mary the Protector is like a beautiful crown atop of the hill. It reflects the events of general European history.

St. Florjan and St. John Nepomucene guard baroque staircase leading to the church. The entrance at the top of the staircase is decorated by sitting angels with shields and richly decorated vases.

Above the main portal there is the Mantled Virgin Mary the Protector with a cloak reigning again (merciful relief was relocated to the main altar during the Baroque period and now there is a low relief in bronze there) and inviting you to enter. On the rectangular door wings there is a bronze low relief image of the Pope John Paul II who during his visit to Slovenia in 1999 beatified Bishop Anton Martin Slomšek represented on the left door wing. There are also the symbols of four evangelists on the reliefs (the reliefs are the work of V. Gojkovič, 2002). The relief is surrounded by the thoughts of Slomšek and the intercession Shelter me under your sacred cloak.

The church tower kept changing its appearance throughout history as it experienced numerous reconstructions and renovations due to different damages. The present appearance of the tower is from the Baroque time. It has four bells ringing and gracefully singing, honouring the Lady Virgin of the Hill.

Vestry that is leaning against the church on the northern side was built at the same time as the church.

High Gothic windows (9 m) with slim buttresses and rich traceries revive the external appearance of the church that is especially slim and varied on the eastern side where it is concluded by three gothic apses.

The church walls with a preserved southern defence tower is a reminder of the time of the Turks when the Hill was made into a camp as can be seen on a preserved copperplate engraver from 1681.

The view is beautiful on all sides:
• Southeast: burial church of St. Lenart, the church of St. John on top
of Janški vrh
• South: church of St. Bolfenk, Donačka gora
• West: Boč, Kamnik Alps


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The altar of Celje of Frederic II


Rosary altar

Saint James

Baroque pulpit

Gothic frescos

Stonecutting signs

Gothic relief - Reverence of the three kings and Death of Mary