Slovenian Heritage

From Slovenia to Cleveland

Cleveland is home to the largest population of Slovenians in the world outside of Slovenia

Slovenians began to settle in the city in the 1880s, with a large Slovenian community developing along St. Clair Avenue between E. 30th and E. 79th Streets. Cleveland originally attracted Slovenians because of its industrial base and its need for unskilled and semi-skilled laborers. The first wave of Slovenian immigrants to come to Cleveland therefore tended to be young, unmarried men seeking economic opportunities. The post-World War II Slovenian immigrants, on the other hand, were political refugees escaping the Communist regime of Josip Broz Tito and were often older and better educated than had been the first group of immigrants when they first arrived in Cleveland.

In addition to religious activities, St. Vitus provided the community with social services and cultural events, and it continues, along with the Slovenian National Home, to serve as a central organization for Slovenians today.

Introduction courtesy of the Cleveland Historical Team


Baraga Days

Held over a two-day time period each year, to promote the cause for "Venerable Frederic Baraga" toward the process of sainthood in the Catholic Church.

The cause for Baraga began in 1952. He would eventually receive the title of "Servant of God" after the Congregation for the Causes of Saints formally admitted his cause for consideration. In 2012, His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI declared him as "Venerable," thus allowing his cause to proceed to the step of beatification: one miracle must be attributed to Bp. Baraga, as is required prior to be declared "Beatified."

Cleveland, Ohio hosted the Baraga Days in 2015 with St. Vitus and St. Mary The Assumption Parishes as the primary sponsors. Baraga Days have also been held in Cleveland in 1998 and 2005, as well as in the 1970s and prior years.

Frederic Irenaeus Baraga was born on June 28, 1797 in the vicinity of Mala Vas, Dobrnic, in present day Republic of Slovenia. He grew up in a changing and violent era, including the Napoleonic Wars. As a gifted linguist, Baraga would eventually read and speak French, German, Greek, Latin, and Slovenian.

After studying law at the University of Vienna, he desired to become a priest. On Sept. 21, 1823, he was ordained in the Cathedral of St. Nicholas, located in capital city of Ljubljana, Slovenia. Baraga’s first assignments took him to Kranj and then Metlika, Slovenia. By 1830 he was granted permission to become a missionary priest in the Upper Michigan area, primarily to serve the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, where he learned the rudiments of these Indian languages and English. From that time until his death in 1868, he served the vast region of Upper Michigan, establishing schools, churches, orphanages, and purchased land for the people he served.

Fr. Baraga published his first book in 1837 in the Ottawa language entitled "Ottawa Anamie-Misinaigan," a book of instruction on catechism and prayers. He also wrote a book on meditations and spirituality entitled "Dusna pasa." He then began ministry with the Ojibway Indians, commonly referred to as Chippewa Indians, composing and publishing the first written dictionary and grammar book of the Chippewa Indians, in addition to other books and articles in multiple languages.

Baraga was appointed as the founding bishop for the now diocese of Marquette, a position he served from 1853 to 1868. He was also able to encourage other priests and religious orders to serve this and other areas in Upper Michigan.

  • Entrance Procession
  • Entrance Procession
  • Altar Decoration
  • Bishop Lennon
  • Baraga Days Mass
  • Rev. Joseph P. Božnar
  • Noša Procession
  • Service Award Recipients

For more pictures from the 2015 Baraga Days, please visit our full gallery, here.