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Sisters of Charity Baronial Estate Near Zagreb

Castle Luznica photoOne normally doesn't envision nuns of religious devotion dedicated to serving the poor, in the rich environment of a neo-Baroque manor house of European nobility. The Castle Luznica, built in 1791, is now in the hands of the nuns of the Sisters of Charity Convent of St Vincent de Paul. The beautiful manor itself, set on an 8 acre park with a lake and woodland walks only 14 miles from Zagreb (see Zagreb City), is used mostly for ceremonial functions, educational seminars, workshops and conferences for the Spritual Education Center of Mary's Court, while a modern seperate wing on the grounds serves as a residence and nursing home for aging nuns.

Luznica Convent Chapel Altar photoThe Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul were first founded in 1633 as the Servants to the Sick & Poor, once known as the Gray Sisters - from their habit colors, not their disposition - which is anything but gray. The order has gonne though many itterations since the 17th Century. The castle manor is open to tourists on Sundays with guided tours offered at 4 pm. On other days it is also possible to visit by special request, just call ahead, at least one of the very welcoming and charming sisters speaks English and will make arrangements.

Cermaics at Luznica photoThe mansion of Castle Luznica with a formal symetrical design with turreted corners was originally the home of successive Croatian noble families until being acquired by the sisters. Many of the rooms of the mid-18th Century mansion retain their original wood paneling, crests and decorative tile heaters common to baronial manors of central Europe (see Ceramics Liechtenstein), though most of the period furniture is replacement. The castle is filled with some stunning religious art of classic style as well as a very unique and very modern altar in the chaple designed by a local young artist on commission from the convent which requires some explanation of its meaning – a sun representing Christ rising over the waves of a sea representing the calming force of the Holy spirit in the seas of a tumultuous life.

Looking to stay in a Croatian Convent?

Virgin Mary Statue photoLodging accommodation for the public is available at the Castle Luznica Mary's Court center. The guesthouse on the park grounds, which shares part of a modern dormatory structure where the resident nuns convalesce, has 53 single rooms available, 5 which can be used as twin, all with bathrooms and Internet connection. Meals are served in the manor house dining room including a Vegetarian menu. A large conference hall in the manor’s basement Luznica basement photocan accommodate up to 150 with a refreshment room, which I must admit is the first bar I've seen with a crucifix over it. The park offers ample opportunity for woodland walks and contemplation, or prayer at the Statue of the Virgin Mary standing over the open sepulchre surrounded by pines and flowers and some neighboring run down farms. If on a religious tour of Croatia, Lužnica is not far from various places of pilgrimage to the Virgin Mary, like Marija Bistrica.

The Lužnica Manor is 4 km off the Ljubljana-Maribor highway and can be reached by car or by public transportation, though the bus and train stations are about a 15-20 minute walk. Zagreb airport is about 45 minutes by car. © Bargain Travel Europe

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