According to the written tradition, a Francis-can monk named Joakim balagović brought Our Lady’s statue from the Holy Land in 1669 as a gift for his brother Nikola who lived just by the road at Trški vrh. When the unfortunate Nikola’s house caught fire and burned to the ground, the statue was found untouched in the ashes. Nikola then put it in the hollow walnut tree near his house and that’s where the first worshiping of the statue began. An unknown thief took the statue to Taborsko Parish, but soon it was given back as an ob-ject of even greater adoration.
The real worshiping of the statue began during the plague of 1743 when the people of Krapina prayed to Our Lady of Jerusalem for their salvation. She answered their prayers and they fulfilled their vow to build her a church. Krapina Municipality passed a deci-sion in which they ask the Spiritual Court of Zagreb Archdiocese to allow them to build a votive church in honor of Our Lady of Jerusalem. In July 1750 Father Nikola Gorup blessed the foundations and started the construc-tion. unlike the church in belec, which by that time was already consecrated and whose construction enjoyed sponsorship of rich noble families, all the work on the church in Trški vrh was funded from donations of the parishioners. Above the main entrance in the church there is an inscription in Latin saying that the construction began in 1750 thanks to the parishioners’ generous contributions. The church was finished in 1761 at the time of Nikola Gorup’s service as the parish priest.
In 1762 the Canon of Zagreb and the bishop of belgrade Stjepan Pucz consecrated the church. As Father Paškal Cvekan wrote, the folk have ever since called this hill Jerusalem.
The sculptor Filip Jakob Straub from Gradac built the main altar, which was installed in 1759. The statue of Our Lady of Jerusalem is lined with silver and its carved frame is the fine work of Master Straub’s workshop. In 1756 the altar of the Holy Cross was built. It is the work of the sculptor Antun Mersi from rogatec who also built the altar of the Holy Fourteen Helpers. In 1760 the same master built the altar of St. John of Nepomuk and the pulpit. The atrium was finished in 1773. Here too the arcades are opening toward the church and are used during confessions and for the protection of pilgrims from bad weather. At the edges of the atrium there are small turrets, while on its northern side there stands a small manor house.
The layout of the church is rich and developed in accordance to the spirit of the Late baroque. Side altars are located in its niches. On the left side, opposite to the sacristy, in 1759 another chapel was built in honor of Mary, Our Lady of the Cape. Although more modest than the church in belec, this votive chapel is also decorated with scenes from Mary’s life, standard in the baroque period. Among these, the scene of Mary’s assumption occupies the most prominent place; women from the Old Testament, Judith and Susana, stand by the blessed virgin, and there is of course the scene of our foreparents’ sin as part of the story of the history of salvation. Gjuro Szabo, a well-known aficionado of Hrvatsko Zagorje, left us a note on Antun Lechinger who made the paintings in the church.
A baroque organ with the choir decorated with angels built in 1763 makes an important part of liturgical furnishings. The organ was built by master Antun römer and is considered one of the most beautiful in Croatia. Even though the climb from Krapina is demanding, so much so that Trški vrh was called by some Teški vrh, which could be roughly translated as a difficult peak, it is worth climbing up along the way of the cross to this Croatian Jerusalem, invigorate one’s spirit and feel the culture of pilgrims of past times that is still very much present.