VODNJAN, CROATIA - MAY 8: Church of St. Blaise and bell tower on May 8, 2014. Vodnjan or Dignano is a old town in Istria County, situated 10 km north of Pula ; Shutterstock ID 193015502; Your name (First / Last): Anna Tyler; GL account no.: 65050; Netsuite department name: Online Editorial; Full Product or Project name including edition: destination-image-southern-europe

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St Blaise’s Church

Istria's West Coast

This handsome neobaroque church was completed in 1800 but commenced 40 years earlier, when Venice was still the style-setter for Istria. With its 63m-high bell tower modelled on St Mark’s in Venice, it’s the largest parish church in Istria, and worth a visit for its magnificent altars alone. The mummies are in a curtained-off area behind the main altar.

In the dim lighting, the complete bodies of Nikolosa Bursa, Giovanni Olini and Leon Bembo resemble wooden dolls in their glass cases. Assorted body parts of three other saints complete the display. As you examine the skin, hair and fingernails of these long-dead people, a tape in English narrates their life stories. Considered to be Europe’s best-preserved mummy, the body of Nikolosa is said to emit a 32m bioenergy circle that has caused 50 miraculous healings.

If the mummies have whetted your appetite for saintly relics, head to the Collection of Sacral Art (Zbirka Sakralne Umjetnosti) in the sacristy. Here there are hundreds of relics belonging to 150 different saints, including the casket with St Mary of Egypt’s tongue.

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