The Parish of Otalež

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The Parish of Otalež extends on a diverse area on the left and right bank of the Idrijca river. The following villages belong to the parish: Masore, Travnik, Lazec, Plužnje, Otalež, and Jazne. Apart from the main parish Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria in Otalež there are two other succursal churches in the area of the parish, St. George in Lazec and St. Nicholas in Jazne.

The Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria in Otalež

»What is this cathedral doing in the mountains?« This is a question that you can often hear someone ask the first time they drive from the valley to Otalež. And as much as the Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria shows its magnificence externally, the inside is radiant as well.

The church surrounded by the cemetery is facing the Masore village to the west with its bell tower, while the main altar is facing in the direction of the Bevkov Vrh hill, towards north. The current church was built in 1844 and its predecessor already stood here in the 16th century. From the spacious entrance hallway, where the stairs to the choir are as well, a view of the entire nave opens up, which is separated from the presbytery by a few stairs.

The church has several altars. The main altar with the statue of the martyr Catherine in the central part takes up the entire back wall of the presbytery. The saint is usually depicted with a wheel and a sword and is the patron saint of girls, young people, printers, librarians, philosophers, lawyers, and scientists, and is the intercessor for a variety of diseases. The parish holiday on her feast holiday is celebrated on 25 November. To the left and right of the statue of St. Catherine also stand the statues of St. Lucy and St. Apollonia on the altar.

Between the main altar and the sacrificial altar there are two side altars placed at the sides. On the one side the statue of Mother of God is kept company by the statues of St. Luke and St. John the Evangelist with the image of St. Aloysius above all of them. Beside the main statue of St. Joseph the statues of St. Mark and St. Matthew also stand on the other altar with the image of St. Anthony the Great on the top of the altarpiece.

The eastern altar by the benches in the middle of the nave with a central image of St. Peter shows the great rock of the church in the background, and a cock depicted next to St. Peter. The side statues represent St. Andrew and St. Paul. On the top of the altarpiece there is also an image of St. Barbara. On the altar at the southern wall St. John of Nepomuk is depicted on the central painting with an image of Prague and Charles Bridge in the background. At the sides there are the statues of two apostles. Above the main painting you can see the image of St. Magdalene. All the altars in the church (apart from the altar of sacrifice) are wooden.

The current altar of sacrifice was made and consecrated in 1996, having been a gift of a local, already deceased priest and benefactor Msgr. Janez Filipič.

The spacious church nave is complemented with a large glass chandelier in the middle. On the way to the main altar, before the entrance to the sacristy, there is also a pulpit with a statue of Moses on the top. The Stations of the Cross show characteristics of the baroque style.

The church leaves a truly magnificent impression in these hills, as the steep slopes that surround it even increase the impression of magnificence. If you are wondering why the church is so big, the answer is: when it was decided that the original church needed to be expanded because of increasing number of inhabitants, the new measures were obtained by asking all the parishioners to gather together. Since these were the times when people would carry a basket on their back to the mass, the ground surface of the newly drawn church was accordingly bigger. Legend or no legend, the truth is such that you can always get a seat when you attend mass.

Certain information is taken from the book Otalež, skoraj tisoč let znano naselje na sončni strani Alp, med Primorsko, Notranjsko in Kranjsko (Eng. Otalež, a Settlement Known for Almost One Thousand Years on the Sunny Side of the Alps between the Primorska, Notranjska, and Kranjska Regions) (1996) by Janez Filipič.