The earliest non-legendary record of the Church in France begins in the 2nd century, when 48 Catholics, included the Bishop of Lugdunum, were martyred in Lyon, which was then part of the Roman province of Gaul.
Most French people consider King Clovis I to be the founder of France. Clovis converted from paganism, and was baptized on Christmas Day in 496 by Saint Remy. Clovis’ baptism is considered to be the foundational moment of western Christendom.
Croatia is mentioned in the Bible. While France is the Church’s eldest daughter, any place mentioned in Scripture has a strong claim on ancient Christian roots. This point goes to Croatia.
Croatia’s patron saint is St. Joseph. You can’t do much better than that. Unless your patron saint is the Blessed Virgin Mary. France’s patron saint is the Blessed Virgin Mary, in addition to several other saints.
St. Jerome was born in the region of Dalmatia. So was St. Marko Krizin, a priest of the Counter-reformation, and St Leopold Mandic, a pious Capuchin missionary. St. Nicholas Tavelic was a Croatian Franciscan, who was martyred in 1391 in Jerusalem after refusing to convert to Islam, along with 3 Franciscan companions.
In 2003, Pope St. John Paul II dedicated a church to the Croatian martyrs, soldiers who were slaughtered by invading Ottoman forces in the 15th century. Hundreds of thousands of other Croats have faced martyrdom and persecution, and died holy deaths in discipleship of Jesus Christ.
St. Joan of Arc. St. John Vianney. St. Therese of Lisieux. St. Remy. St. Denis. St. Peter Faber. St. Isaac Jogues. St. Louis IX of France. St. Vincent de Paul. I’m really just getting warmed up. This category is going to France.
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In its long history, Croatia has presumably given the Church many holy men and women, but many of them remain unknown. Over the centuries, the holy people of central European countries have not gained as much attention as those from western Europe. This is unfortunate. But France has a lot of saints. A lot. France gets the point.
The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is stunning. Beautiful. A gothic-style cathedral built in the 1200s, and restored in the 1880s. There are barricades around the cathedral that were built in the 1400s to hold back Ottoman invaders. Those same barricades held back the Ottomans in another invasion attempt 200 years later. Zagreb’s cathedral has also survived an earthquake. It’s a gem for the entire Church.