Dubrovnik Musket-bearing Guard of Honour

One cannot imagine a major event in Dubrovnik without the participation of...

Dubrovnik Musket-bearing Guard of Honour

the Dubrovnik Musket-bearing Guard of Honour. Its members carry light wide guns, the firing of which can frighten those who are unfamiliar with the sound, but also warn the local people that something important is happening in the City.

One of such events is the Festival of St Blaise, the Citys patron saint, which takes place on 3 February. A large number of congregation members from Dubrovnik and its surroundings gather within the City walls and walk in a procession carrying the banners of their parish churches. They wear folk costumes of Primorje, Župa dubrovačka and Konavle, which have been kept for the occasion in the old family chests. Early in the morning of St Blaises Day the Dubrovnik Musket-bearing Guard of Honour arrives at Brsalje and gun salutes before entering the City, ceremoniously announcing the day which is of major importance for Dubrovnik. The musket-bearers never fire within the city walls. The room for this is reserved at Peskarija or Pile, where men were trained to shoot from guns and cannons at the time of the Dubrovnik Republic. According to the records, the long and rich history of the musket-bearers goes back to the 16th century, when the Church of St Sebastian -adjacent to the Dominican Monastery situated at the eastern entrance to the City - was the seat of the grenadiers-cannoneers guild. The present day musket-bearers, however, claim 1417 to be the year of their foundation. The mortar and musket-bearers were continuously active in Dubrovnik up to World War I, yet their activities were interrupted during the Austro-Hungarian reign. Re-established in 1970, the musket-bearers have been continuously active in the public life of the City. Their participation in the Festivity of St Blaise in 1992, when Dubrovnik was bleeding in the Croatian War of Independence, was particularly moving. Instead of the ceremonious gun saluting, the musket-bearers walked gracefully in the procession of peace with olive branches in the barrels of their muskets, celebrating St Blaises Day together with others who came to pay homage to the Dubrovnik patron saint.

The Festival of St Blaise actually reveals the most intrinsic tradition of the Dubrovnik Musket-bearing Guard with the precise schedule of gun salute firing, the only one which glorifies freedom and free spirit that have been traditional in this peaceful city, leaving the smell of gunpowder behind.

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