On October 5, 2021, a book presentation was held at the Holy Spirit Friary in Zagreb, Croatia. The new book, entitled, “Conventual Franciscans among the Croats” (Konventualni franjevci u Hrvata), was written by Friar Ljudevit MARAČIĆ, the current Provincial Archivist of the Province St. Jerome in Croatia.
The book is over five hundred pages long. It contains twenty-five historical essays, some of which were previously published in various Croatian and Italian magazines. Friar Ljudevit talks about Franciscan topics connected with the history of the Conventuals in the regions east of the Adriatic Sea. The book is divided into four chapters, based on the geographical and historical content they contain. Almost all of the essays center on the Province of St. Jerome during the period of Venetian rule in what was then Istria and Dalmatia. The author provides a detailed study on the mission and activities of the friars in these areas that are now part of modern Croatia. His work is based on research he did in the historical archives of the Province, located in the Provincial Curia in Zagreb.
The Provincial archive contains twenty large manuscripts in Latin, entitled “Acta Provinciae”, covering the period from 1559 to 1827 (when the Province of St. Jerome in Dalmatia was united with the Province of St. Anthony in Padua. Obviously, these manuscripts contain a great deal of information, names and events, especially Provincial Chapters and Congregations, as well as Provincial Visitations. These were normally conducted each year by sailing ship, given the configuration of the Province on the Adriatic The author describes several aspects of this past, bringing today’s readers closer to many important and interesting events, all the more so, because there are few who know Latin today. Although this book covers the history of the Province of Croatia, it also discusses many connections with the Province of Padua and reconstructs the mutual back and forth between these two historical Provinces.
The book was presented by Professor Ivan ARMANDA, a member of the Croatian Lexicographic Institute in Zagreb. He pointed out that Friar Ljudevit MARAČIĆ is a member of a group of the most productive Croatian Franciscan historians in recent decades. Friar Ljudevit is from Pula, Croatia, and previously served multiple terms as Minister Provincial. His research confirms that no topic is so specific that it cannot attract the attention and admiration of the reader. Interesting cultural content was preserved in all of the many friaries of Croatia. Today, however, only five exist, the friaries in Pula, Cres, Šibenik, Split and Vis. Another friary in Piran, is now part of the Province of St. Joseph in Slovenia.
Professor Lovorka ČORALIĆ spoke next. She is a member of the Croatian Historical Institute in Zagreb and an expert in Croatian-Italian relations, especially regarding Venice and its kingdom. She indicated that Friar Ljudevit had written an exceptional book and his research in the archives uncovered previously unknown information about the many friaries once situated east of the Adriatic. Moreover, he discovered several interesting figures in the areas of history, culture, theology and science. Professor ČORALIĆ pointed out that Friar Ljudevit contributed, not only to the religious sphere, but also to the secular- cultural sphere.
In the end, Friar Ljudevit, thanked the many who supported him in his research. He answered questions about what motivated him to publish this book, which clearly would have limited appeal in an era where reading has been replaced by social media. He responded that he fervently hoped to offer the riches of the past to our confreres of the future, perhaps even to experts, although few understand Latin today. Without knowing Latin, the author concluded, we can close the archives that still enrich many of our friaries today.
The book was published by the Province of Croatia together with the publishing house “Kršćanska sadašnjost” in Zagreb, the largest Catholic book publisher in Croatia. The director of the publishing house, Dr. Stjepan BREBRIĆ, was also present at the book presentation. He encouraged more of these kinds of projects for the future.
Friar Tomislav GLAVNIK, Guardian of the friary in Zagreb and Provincial Vicar, spoke last and informed the many present that this book presentation coincides with the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Holy Spirit Friary in Zagreb. On every first Wednesday in the coming months, the friary will be offering a cultural event to prepare the public for its 100th anniversary.
Friar Vladimir VIDOVIĆ, Editor of Veritas magazine [CEF]