Constructed of sleek stone in the Romanesque architectural style, the Bella Donna Chapel sits regally alone on one of the two islands in the Harbor of the Adriatica Village. Accessible only by footbridge, the journey to the Bella Donna is deeply reminiscent of another time and place with a subtle combination of history and holiness stirring the heart of those visiting her.
An ancient travertine carving salvaged from a war-damaged chapel in Tuscany, Italy rests above the castle-like wooden doors at the entrance to the chapel. The 300-year old travertine bas-relief carving depicts the outstretched hand of Jesus welcoming all into the peaceful 2000 square foot grand interior of travertine floors, grand arched ceilings and stone mantle and columns framing the altar and along each wall. Beveled stained glass windows reflect the ambiance of the custom chandelier lighting hanging above. Seating up to 185 guests on antique wooden pews, the chapel offers each guest unobstructed views of the ceremony taking place under a domed fresco painted ceiling. Water surrounding the island offers a sense of calm as it reflects sunlight through the large windows of the sanctuary.
After saying “I Do”, the Bride and Groom are joined by their guests on the terrace to announce to the community their happy union. Following tradition, they will together ring the wedding bell, cast especially for Bella Donna and given as a gift from the citizens of Supetar, Croatia as a sign of friendship from one village to another.
This is the very true story of the Bella Donna Chapel, the most beautiful gift ever given in the name of love…
The story begins with a lovesick man (as all good fairytales do). He was in love with the most beautiful woman in all the land and knew that he must find a worthy gift if he hoped to win her heart.
The man searched the world over looking for the perfect gift, not sure yet what it would be, but believing that when he found it, he would know. He considered many different options for his true love. In his quest, he purchased for her some of the finest treasures of gold and precious stones, exotic furs and perfumes, yet the man knew these simple treasures would not suffice. The woman he loved was beautiful to the depths of her soul, and so must be his gift.
One day, the man was walking through a village by the sea in a faraway land when he heard a beautiful sound in the distance. Cheerful and melodic, bold and haunting, the sound floated in on the salt breeze like the sweet smell of honeysuckle in springtime. It danced through him and he drew it in with his breath, feeling the movement of its ring deep within.
Instinctively, the man moved toward the sound. Making his way down the cobblestone roads of the village by the sea, he passed children playing, couriers on bicycles making their deliveries, bakers selling bread from open door shops and a café where friends were gathered on the patio for an afternoon gelato. The man was so captivated by the melodious music that he barely saw the bride and groom beaming happily as they walked by.
The man found himself looking up in wonder at the most beautiful building he had ever seen. Quaint and modest, the little chapel almost appeared shy, as if slightly embarrassed by its beauty. With the ringing of a single bell resting in the belfry at the top of the red tiled roof, he finally realized this was the source of the captivating sound he had heard. He was drawn inside to explore this hidden treasure.
As he passed slowly across the threshold through the massive hand carved wooden doors, the man could scarcely believe what he saw. From the glowing travertine floor to the gentle frescos of angels floating just below a gracefully arched ceiling, the chapel was immaculate. It did not boast or command attention.
As alluring as a beautiful woman, she stood quietly, warming him with sunbeams through stained glass, soothing him with color and stillness. He knew that this little chapel embodied the deep, soulful beauty of his love.
After standing in silent reverence for some time, the man stepped back into the sunlight, brimming with excitement as he realized he had finally found the perfect gift for his bride.
He took out his cell phone and dialed her number.“Hello?” said a sleepy voice on the other side of the world. “Donna,” he said, “Listen.”
Again, the melody of the bell filled the air, and the woman began to weep, stirred by the beauty of the sound she heard on the other end of the telephone.
“I have a gift for you”, said the man.
And that very day, he gathered together his plans and supplies, rushing home to fulfill his promise. On the very ground where he had first pledged his love to her, he built his future bride her very own chapel.
And they lived happily ever after.