6. SACRAL HERITAGE AND GLAGOLITICS PRIESTS OF POLJICA
There are as many as 106 sacral buildings in the Poljica area. It’s not that it would be impossible to list them all, but I don’t see the point in listing when the real experience is actually a live visit. Personally, I visited them quite a bit, although similar, each has its own atmosphere and a story related to the places where they were built. Apart from the churches themselves, it was especially interesting for me to go through the Poljica karst landscape and the villages on the way to them.
I will list a few churches that have somehow touched my heart.
“The parish church of St. Cyprian, Gata ”
In Gata, I visited five of the ten churches and chapels. Parish Church of St. Cyprian was built on the remains of an early Christian basilica from the 6th century, and in its vicinity is the Historical Museum of Poljica. Church of St. George on Graz Hill is also called “Poljica Cathedral”. From this place, you can see the Cetina canyon, the surrounding hills, the sea and the island of Brac. I was most impressed by the mysterious atmosphere of the Church of the Assumption of Mary in Smovo. Chapel of St. Anthony is located in an abandoned, but still beautiful hamlet Skočibe.
In Zvečanje on the Gračina Hill is the parish church of St. Michael with an amazing landscape view. The church existed on this site in the 16th century, and over time it was repaired and upgraded.
In Donji Dolac I visited the parish church of St. Martin and the Church of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. The parish church was built in the 19th century near a demolished 18th-century church. In fact, there was a third, the oldest mentioned in 15th-century documents. The bell tower is separated from the church and a copy of the bell tower of the chapel of St. Arnir in Split.
A story is connected with the parish church on the border between Gornji Dolac and Srijane, which says that the grave of one of the founders of Poljica, Elem, is located there. The Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary dates from the 18th-century and houses old family graves with inscriptions written in Croatian Cyrillic. The church was built of carved stone. Its oldest part is today’s sacristy, which is located in a special chapel on the north side of the nave. This chapel is from pre-Turkish times.
“Double churches from Jesenice”
Finally, I will mention another double church from Jesenice from the 17th century, built on the foundations of an early Christian basilica from the 5th century. These are the churches of St. St. Stephen and St. Anthony Abbot.
The shrine of the Croatian Catholic saint Leopold Bogdan Mandić is located in Zakučac. His great-grandfather Nikola was from Zakučac. In the 18th century, he moved to Herceg Novi where the future saint would be born. The sanctuary consists of a cave and a plateau with an altar. In front of the cave is a statue of St. Leopold Bogdan Mandić, the work of the academic sculptor Kažimir Hraste.
“Monument to the Glagolitic priest, Gata”
The Glagolitic priests of POLJICA were priests of the people. They preached in the Croatian language, they held Masses in Croatian, not Latin. After the holy rites, they would work in the field, but also fight when the need arose for war. They used three scripts, Latin, Poljičica (Poljica version of Western Cyrillic) and Glagolitic script. In the Middle Ages, schooling was individual, priests taught future priests, the literate illiterate, and the main ones in the literacy of the people were the Glagolitic priests.
Only in the 18th century was the Illyrian seminary opened on Priko in Omiš, near the early Christian church of St. Peter, the oldest church in Poljica. Glagolitic Priests were educated in the seminary, it was used for the upbringing and education of Catholic priests for worship in the Old Slavonic language.