May 15, 2020 - Every year in Perast, May 15 is solemnly celebrated in memory of the incredible victory over the Turks in 1654. That victory was attributed to the help of the Mother of God, because the forces of Perast were so small that they could only win with the help of heaven. That is why they made a vow to commemorate the victory every year and to thank God and the Mother of God for the grace bestowed.
After the Turkish conquest of Herceg Novi and Risan in 1482, the Turkish conquest of Montenegro in 1496 and the voluntary transfer of Grbalj to the sultan's rule, the rest of Boka, which was part of the Venetian Republic, was surrounded on all sides by the Ottoman Empire. When the Turks in 1571. occupied Bar and Ulcinj, the Venetian territory became narrower and more endangered. The Boka Navy, in addition to other functions, also had been defending the bay and the coast and participating in naval battles and wars of the Venetian against the Turkish fleet. And in times of peace between the Venetian Republic and the Ottoman Empire there were constant conflicts here on land and at sea.
When the Turks turned Ulcinj into the main pirate base on the Adriatic, and pirate ships existed in Herceg Novi and Risan, for the Boka sailors, fierce conflicts with them became part of everyday life. Perast had a strategic position on the border with the Turkish Risan, and controlled the passage through the Strait of Verige. For their merits, the Boka people, especially the people of Perast, received great economic privileges, noble titles and decorations from the Venetian Republic.
The Turks in 1654. decided to attack little Perast with great force. The people of Perast had a good intelligence service on Turkish territory, and the Orthodox priest Radul from Risan told them that an attack was being prepared, so they had a short time to prepare.
The problem was that the vast majority of adult men were sailing, so both children and the elderly were engaged. The Venetian authorities from Kotor sent only 30 soldiers to help them in the fortress of the Holy Cross above the city, so that Perast was defended by about 100 armed men. About 5,000 Turkish soldiers under the command of Mehmed-aga Rizvanagic took part in the attack on May 15, with the help of ships from Herceg Novi.
Despite the huge numerical inferiority, the people of Perast, led by the captain of the city Krsto Viskovic, organized an extraordinary defense. The Turks broke into the city and set fire to about 30 houses, but then the Perastans counterattacked and surprised the enemy, killing over 70 Turks and Commander Mehmed-Aga, and wounding about 300, and forcing the others to flee. In the meantime, eight ships from Herceg Novi looted two islands in front of the city, but they also withdrew. As a sign of gratitude to the Mother of God, the people of Perast presented the church of Our Lady of Rocks with a silver relief depicting the battle.
This date is marked by a series of religious and other manifestations.
According to the old protocol, the Main Detachment of the Boka Navy parades accompanied by the City Music from Kotor, line up on the square in front of the church of St. Nicholas and dance the traditional Kolo. A procession follows through the streets of Perast with Our Lady's icon, the work of the best Gothic painter from Kotor, Lovro Dobričević, which was previously transferred from the island of Our Lady of Rocks. After that, a solemn mass is held in the church of St. Nicholas. After its completion, the centuries-old "shooting of cook" followed, which in recent years provoked protests from some non-governmental organizations, so the Veterinary Inspection banned it.
Extraordinary measures due to the pandemic made the usual program of celebration impossible this year, except for the religious rite in accordance with the regulations.