WHERE IS IT?
The church of the blessed Virgin Mary – cathedral of the Archdiocese of Belgrade is located in the district Vračar in 75 Milentijeva Street .
The construction of a new church, conceived as a “memorial church” to French and Serbian soldiers who died on the Salonika front, started in 1938. Due to the World War II and its consequences, interruption of construction work lasted more than forty years.There was already an older church, known as the French Church, which was built in 1925. together with the pastoral office and a convent The Parish buildings were designed by the famous architect Milan Zlokovic. The old bell tower was built in 1930 with a clock mechanism and a figure of a Gallic cock, a characteristic symbol of France, designed by arch. Dujam Granić.
The construction of the new church was built upon the initiative of French general Louis Franchet d'Espèrey in honor of the 45,000 soldiers who died on the Salonika front. Due to the Second World War and its consequences, the interruption of work lasted for more than forty years. New church was consecrated, now as a cathedral in 1988.
The old church was remodelled as a room for pastoral encounters in 1994.
The church was designed by arch. Branislav Marinković, as a three-nave basilica with a transept and a portal in the form of a monumental tower, in form of a triumphal arch. The entrance is on the south side . The church was designed in the style of then popular modernism.
The pastoral office and a convent located in the courtyard were remodelled in 1989 and bear the name of St. Ivan Capistrano, a saint who is also respected for his merits in the battles fought in Belgrade during the Ottoman sieges in the 15th century. Today, this space is dominated by a high bell tower with a clock and on top of the tower bell is a statuette of Le coq gaulois.
During the reconstruction of the cathedral from 2019 to 2022, a new mosaic and stained glass windows of the Transfiguration of Christ were made on the high tower of the cathedral. They are executed by Slovenian artist Marko Rupnik, who has already done mosaics in the building of the Belgrade Archdiocese. In 2022, a bronze statue of Pope John XXIII, by artist Dragan Radenović, was installed in the garden of the cathedral to honour, the then Apostolic Delegate Roncalli, future Pope John XXIII, who blessed the church during his visit to Belgrade in 1925.
The interior of the church is designed by Slovenian architect Franz Kvaternik, while Lojze Čemažar and Lucian Bratuš painted the altar apse. The frescoes are inspired by the idea of the interweaving of two Christian churches. In the conch of the apse there are two scenes of the Assumption of the Virgin, one is painted according to the Eastern Christian tradition - on a bier surrounded by twelve apostles, while in the upper part the Virgin is painted according to Western Christian iconography, with twelve stars. Saints Ivan Capistran, Nicholas Flue and Cyril of Alexandria are depicted on the left (north) side, and on the right (south): Cyril and Methodius and Serbian saint Sava.
In the apse above the Virgin is depicted the Christ with angels.
In 2000, thanks to Anton Hočevar, then pastor of the Church of Christ the King, the cathedral received a new organ built by Francesco Zanin, from one of the oldest organ workshops in Italy.
In 2000, the international festival Days of the Organ was launched, which is traditionally held every year in the cathedral.