The sanctuary in Marija Bistrica became a national sanctuary as early as 1715, when the Croatian Parliament erected a large votive altar. With the growth of Marian devotion and due to many gracious obediences through the intercession of the Mother of God of Bistrica, the sanctuary church became cramped and too small. Therefore, the parish priest of Bistrica, Dr. Juraj Zherjavich (1875-1911), according to the designs of the architect Friedrich von Schmidt and his student Hermann Bollé, had the church, the parish court with arcades, expanded and rearranged, and the old church was turned into a Neo-Renaissance church.
Marija Bistrica experienced its first biggest celebration on August 15, 1971, when the XIII. International Marian Congress. That year, the bishops declared the sanctuary the Croatian National Shrine of Our Lady of Bistrica.