Church of St. Mary – Gospa Gusarica.
The name ‘(Gospa) Gusarica’ (loosely translated as “Lady of the Pirates”) for the Church of Our Lady in Komiža is first mentioned in documents from 1542
Church of St. Mary was built in the mid 16th century, close to the sea shore. The church has a somewhat unusual shape because it consists of three connected churches with three triangular facades. Inside, there are three naves with three vaults, separated by arches on strong masonry columns.
The middle and the western naves have a Gothic vault, and the eastern nave, a semi-arched vault, is with Baroque features. There are five altars in the church, the most beautiful being the main altar with gilded baroque statues of the Annunciation. Along the east wall of the church is a small church courtyard with an octagonal well in which the water springs. Interestingly, this spring passes under the main altar in the middle nave, all the way to the front door to the church. In the times past, women used to come to the well to draw water or to wash the clothes, so the place was also a favourite meeting place for young people.
The church houses the organ, among the oldest in this part of Dalmatia, the work of the workshop of Stephanus Kolarevich (Krakow, Poland) from 1670.
The name ‘Gusarica’ /’Cursarizza’ ( ‘Lady of the Pirates’) for the Church of Our Lady in Komiža is, for the first time, mentioned in documents dating from 1542, when the local name of Our Lady of the Pirates is associated with the official title of the church, which is the Visitation of Mary.
For centuries, Vis has been exposed to pirate attacks, that in the past have posed one of the serious threats to its inhabitants. The pirates arrived with the galleys, probably between 1513 and 1542, in the Bay of Komiža, and among other things took the image of Our Lady and captured two locals. When leaving the bay, they could not sail out and decided to throw the painting overboard, when the image was damaged. Our Lady’s image returned to the shore in front of the the church from which it has been stolen. The event with the pirates had a great resonance among the people, so later documents mention only the name “Lady of the Pirates”, and the official title was completely omitted.
Due to the facts mentioned it is understandable why, in the past, the veneration of Our Lady of the Pirates was so deep in its devotion, and why her image was considered miraculous.
Location: From the port of Komiža you can reach the Church of Our Lady of the Pirates in easy, 10 minutes’ walk.