Cross Put on Fire in Strunjan

Country: Slovenia

Date of incident: May 10, 2012

On Thursday, the 10th of May, Dean Verzel, together with a few adherents, set the XVIIth century votive cross of Strujan on fire. The artist Dean Verzel and photographer Goran Bertok carried out the same act 10 years ago but were acquitted in court.

The votive cross was first erected by seamen and fishermen in the year 1600 to fulfill a vow and obtain divine protection on the sea. Last year it was restored by the local residents in preparation for this year's celebration of the 500th anniversary of apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Dean Verzel teamed up with Andrej Medved, a philosopher and poet, who recited his poetry at the burning cross: “The cross does not symbolize spontaneity and freedom but hierarchy, subordination, dullness. Therefore it is a sign that has to fall. And with it every god, which is like petrification of fire,” says Medved's song. The burning of the cross as the votive image is understood by Slovenian Christians as a direct act of “Christianophobia” sowing religious intolerance. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference Commission on Justice and Peace has issued a statement saying that they see the burning of the votive cross as a “malicious act of public incitation and provocation of religious hatred and intolerance through desecration of religious symbols of Christianity, an attempt at stigmatization of Christians in our society (christianophobia), and an effort to deliberately offend religious feelings.” The parish community of the Apparition of Mary at Strunjan held a reconciliation prayer service on the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord on Thursday, the 17th of May 2012. The theme of the service was “Under the cross”, saying: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!” See pictures here. Sources: Press office of the Slovenian Bishops' Conference