Custodians of Heritage
Throughout the centuries monasteries have been watching over the invaluable cultural and historical heritage of the Vipava Valley, preserving it in their consecrated halls with rich knowledge and utmost care.
Capuchin Monastery in Vipavski Križ
The monastery was built next to the Castle of Vipavski Križ in the eponymous medieval town in 1637 at the behest of the Counts of Attems. Ever since, the monastery has been virtually continuously inhabited by Capuchin monks, who made a great mark on the erstwhile town of Vipavski Križ. The monastery is noted for the precious library of 25,000 books, of which 2,000 were printed from 1510 to 1800. The jewel in the crown is the Manuscript Codex – a 15th century prayer book written in Gothic minuscule and adorned with intricate illuminations and initials. Among the library’s most prized possessions are five volumes of Sacrum promptuarium penned by the famous baroque preacher Janez Svetokriški (John Baptist of the Saint Cross), a Capuchin monk himself. The monastery and the monastery church house a great number of art pieces; the centrepiece is the large Baroque painting Glory of the Holy Trinity produced by the Capuchin monk Oswald in 1668, which is one of the largest and finest canvas paintings in the country. The extensive library and artwork collection can be visited upon prior appointment.
Franciscan Monastery Kostanjevica in Nova Gorica
Kostanjevica, a friendly hill overlooking Gorica, is where Count Matija Thurn commissioned a small monastery to the existing chapel, and bestowed both to Carmelite monks in 1649. The Carmelites have made extensive additions to the monastery in later years. In 1811, Kostanjevica was put into the care of Franciscan monks who have held on to it to this day. The church and monastery were severely damaged in the First World War, and much of the valuable art collection was lost. Only a few precious paintings were saved and these are displayed in today’s monastery.
The cultural and historical significance of Kostanjevica is further underscored by the crypt of the Bourbon dynasty, holding the remains of the last descendants of this French royal family. In 1836, the forcefully abdicated French king Charles X of Bourbon withdrew to Gorica where he died soon after. The crypt beneath the altar of the monastery church holds the stone sarcophagi of the last members of this family, with the exception of his wife who was interred in Graz.
The Škrabec library, named after father Stanislav Škrabec who was the biggest Slovenian linguist and a resident of Kostanjevica for over 40 years, is one of the greatest treasures of the monastery. It was established when the rich library from Sveta Gora which kept precious prints from the 16th century and on was transferred to Kostanjevica. Today, the library has circa 10,000 books and even 30 incunabula, of which the oldest dates to 1476. One of the most compelling treasures is the grammar book by Adam Bohorič, written in Latin and titled Arcticae horulae succisivae from 1584, with an inscription of the author himself. In 1952 the library was put under protection as a cultural monument.
Since 2004, the former garden of the monastery features another highlight: the Bourbon rose collection which is one of the most comprehensive and largest Bourbon collections in the world.
Franciscan Monastery on Sveta Gora
The famous pilgrimage centre of Sveta Gora is closely linked with Franciscan monks. Exiled several times, they were always able to return. The pilgrimage church was put into the care of the Franciscans in 1565. In 1786, in the aftermath of the reforms instituted by Emperor Joseph II., the pilgrimage route was abolished, and the monks forced to leave. It was soon restored, but the Franciscans returned to Sveta Gora only in 1901. They helped the pilgrimage route reclaim its former reputation, but it was cut short by the First World War that turned the pilgrimage site into a ruin and forced the Franciscans to flee again. Ever since its post-war restoration, when it was first repopulated with Italian Franciscans, the Franciscan monastery on Sveta Gora is the heart of this popular pilgrimage site. The monastery operates the Marian Museum which is a fascinating collection of religious artefacts, outlining the tumultuous history of the pilgrimage route.
Lazarist Monastery at Miren Castle
The Lazarist Monastery is set atop the elevation over the village of Miren, which came to be referred to as Miren Castle after the one-time castle, next to the Church of Our Lady of Sorrows. The earliest written accounts of a church devoted to Mary go back to 1392. Referred to as Our Lady under the Karst, the church was renovated several times up to the 18th century. The present church building was built in the second half of the 19th century. Destroyed during the First World War, the church was built from scratch in the years from 1924 to 1927. However, the Second World War did not spare it. The most recent of the massive restorations was launched in 1958. The entire church interior was furnished with frescoes and sculptures by Tone Kralj.
The Lazarists returned to Miren Castle in 1913. Ever since, they have taken it upon themselves to maintain the church, develop the popular pilgrimage centre on Miren Castle, and organize well-received social projects.