With one of the most important days in Dubrovnik's calendar just around the corner it is essential to understand more about the patron saint of the city. The 3rd of February is the Day of St. Blaise, the day that Dubrovnik gives thanks to the saint who saved their city.
According to legend Venetian ships anchored before the city walls on the eve of the 3rd of February 971, in the middle of winter. The Venetians gained free access to medieval Dubrovnik under the pretence of stocking up on food and water for their journey eastwards. However, their spies carefully noted the number of guards on the city walls, as well as the amount of ammunition in the arsenal.
In the middle of the winter night, when the streets lay deserted, Priest Stojko, the parish priest, went from the city square towards Pustijerna and the Church of St. Steven. He found the church open, and inside, the troops of a heavenly army led by a grizzled old man. He addressed the priest with a request that he inform the city fathers of how the Venetians planned to attack Dubrovnik. The old man had repelled them from the city walls with his own army for a number of nights already. He was garbed as a bishop, with a mitre on his head, and a staff in his hand. When Stojko asked him to identify himself, he answered that his name was Vlaho, or in English Blaise.
So it was that on a winter’s night, that Dubrovnik met its patron, St. Blaise. The next day, his messenger did in truth confront the city fathers with the message. The Venetians knew that they had been discovered when they noted the hasty activity on the city walls and the closed city gates, and so moved on. Already in the following year, in 972, Dubrovnik began to celebrate a day in honour of the patron saint. His first church was built near the city gates. A century of prosperity and freedom would pass.
It was only in 1026 that the first remains of St. Blaise, the martyr and bishop of Sebaste, were transferred to Dubrovnik. The citizens of Dubrovnik marked the 3rd of February as their greatest holiday in memory of the night’s events.