"Let everything that hath breath
praise the Lord.
Praise ye the Lord!"
inhabitants of the coastland towns and Dalmatian islands can be documented from
the early Middle Ages. They were mainly Orthodox Greeks, but later on, in the
14th, 15th and 16th centuries there were also colonies of Serbs in these
In the 14th century,
three monasteries were founded there: Krupa, in 1317; Krka, in 1359; and
Dragovic, 1895. They became spiritual centers, a focus of enlightenment, and
meeting places of the Serbian people in Dalmatia.
dedicated to the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, is situated at the
foot of the rocky mountain Velebit, on a slope near the confluence of the
Krupa and Zrmanja Rivers. The Monastery was founded during the reign of King
Milutin, by monks who fled from Bosnia, from a Monastery by the same name at
the confluence of the Krupa and Vrbas Rivers.
Monastery Krka, with
its church dedicated the Holy Archangel Michael, was founded in 1360 by the
Monk Ruvin. It was endowed by Jelena, Czar Dusan’s sister and the widow of
Ban Mladen II Subic.
Monastery Dragovic was
erected by Orthodox Serbs together with their monks who, after the Battle of
Kosovo in 1389, fled from Serbia and Bosnia to Dalmatia. The Monastery was
erected on the Cetina River, in the vicinity of Vrlika, this being its third
location. By the deliberately planned artificial lake of Peruca, in 1954,
this ancient Monastery of Peruca, together with the nearby Serbian villages,
were moved downstream from the Cetina and the Serbian inhabitants evicted.
Since the 16th century,
when the number of Serbian settlements in Dalmatia grew in number, the
Patriarchate of Pec entrusted the Metropolitan of Dabar–Bosnia with the
administration of these regions. As the "Exarch of Dalmatia", he
conferred upon the archimandrites of Monastery Krka the spiritual guidance of
the Serbs of Dalmatia. When in 1718 Dalmatia fell under Venetian rule,
however, the Serbian people in Dalmatia came under the jurisdiction of the
archbishop of Philadelphia (in Istria). The Orthodox Serbians strongly
resisted being administered by the afore-mentioned archbishop because of his
previous acceptance of Union with the Roman Catholic Church. The Serbs
refused to acknowledge the Uniate archbishop, and they kept on demanding
their own archbishop elected from among their own people and their own Church
– the Patriarchate of Pec.
After the Peace Treaty
of Pozarevac in 1718, the Serbian Church in Dalmatia was administered for
some time by Metropolitan Savatije Ljubratic, who had fled from Hercegovina.
Bishop Savatije was succeeded by his nephew Stefan Ljubibratic, who was
banished by Venetian authorities in 1772.
Having been opposed in
their desire for their own spiritual leader, representatives of the Orthodox
clergy and the Serbian people elected, in 1750, the distinguished
Protopresbyter Simeon Koncarevic as their Bishop, a scholar who was fervently
committed to the Church. He was consecrated by the Metropolitan of
Dabar–Bosnia and two other Bishops, with the permission of the Patriarch of
Pec Simeon. Being a spokesman and patriot of the people, Bishop Simeon
Koncarevic was banished from Dalmatia in 1753, and a long time passed until
the Serbs in Dalmatia were allowed to have their own bishop. Only under
French domination were the Orthodox Serbs allowed to organized their church
life and to have their own bishop. Following that dispensation, Metropolitan
Benedikt Kraljevic (1810–1829), a refugee from Bosnia as well, was appointed
Bishop of Dalmatia. Upon the departure of the French, Bishop Benedikt, under
heavy pressure from the Austrian authorities and the Roman Catholic Church,
gave in to the Union. The Orthodox Serbs refused to accept the Uniate Church,
and Bishop Benedikt was forced to abandon the Episcopal Throne.
With the election of
Bishop Josif Rajacic (1829–1834) and the incorporation of the Diocese of
Dalmatia into the Metropolitanate of Karlovci, the situation of the Serbian
Church in that region took a normal course. Due to the efforts of this Bishop
a Theological Seminary was opened in Sibenik in 1833 which, in 1841. was
transferred to Zadar together with the See of the Diocese. The successors to
Josif Rajacic were eminent prelates: Pantelejmon Zivkovic (1834–1835),
Jerotej Mutibaric (1843–1853), Stefan Knezevic (1853–1890) – a dedicated
fighter for the national and religious rights of his people in Dalmatia. He
was succeeded by the theological scholar, Nikodim Milas, well-known for his
knowledge of Canon Law and Church History. Dimitrije Brankovic, his
successor, was Bishop of Dalmatia from 1913 to 1918.
From 1874 to 1938, the
Diocese of Dalmatia, together with Boka Kotorska, a part of the Metropolitanate
of Bukovina–Dalmatia. At the time of the unification of the Serbian Church
after the First World War, the Diocese of Dalmatia was incorporated into the
reconstituted Serbian Patriarchate. As Zadar was granted to Italy at that
time, the See was reestablished at Sibenik. Following the unification of the
Serbian Church, the Bishops of Dalmatia were: Danilo Pantelic (1921–1927),
Maksimilijan Hajdin (1928–1931) and Irinej Djordjevic – who was banished to
Italy during the war, to a war camp in the vicinity of Florence. After the
capitulation of Italy, Bishop Irinej was released, and after World War II he
left for America, and then for England, where he died.
Under Bishop Stefan
Boca (1959–1978) and Nikolaj Mrdja (1978–1992), the Diocese of Dalmatia in
the post-war period underwent a spiritual revival. Of historical importance
was the renewal of the Theological Seminary in Monastery Krka, through the
merits of Bishop Stefan; and through the great efforts of Bishop Nikolaj, a
new building for this Theological School was built within the Monastery
complex. Bishop Longin (Krco) has held the Episcopal Throne since 1992.
In World War II, in
addition to the deportation of Bishop Irinej, 27 members of the clergy lost
their lives: 22 priests and five monastics. During the same period, 17
churches were destroyed and 23 heavily damaged. Two Monasteries and 18 Parish
Homes were destroyed and 12 church buildings were considerably damaged.
Forty-nine archives and 30 church libraries were also completely annihilated.
During the last war
(1991–1995), 14 churches were destroyed and 45 damaged. Churches were
destroyed in Brocanac, Glavina Donja (near Imotski), Dabar, Zemunik Donji,
Kasic, Skradin, Crno (near Smokovic), Susci. One Parish Home was destroyed
while 13 were damaged.
One of the reports from
this Diocese states: "With great pain and sorrow we inform you that the
holy Church of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos in Imotski – Glavina
Donja, was dynamited and destroyed at 1:00 a.m. on 29 October 1991. Its
iconostasis, of priceless value, has been destroyed. The entrance door has
been blown to pieces. The stone floor-tiles have been torn from their places,
windows blown out, walls cracked, the roof jarred out of place." Some
time during 1992 the church was razed to the ground.
The Croatian aggression
(Operation "Oluja" SStormC) against the Republic of Serbian Krajina
in August of 1995 resulted in the expulsion of the Serbian population, its
churches looted, desecrated and destroyed. This is the only Diocese of the Serbian
Orthodox Church on the territory of the former Yugoslavia where there is no
priest (November 1996). Even after the signing of the Dayton Peace Accord in
October 1995, the Church of Saint Kyriakia in Karin was dynamited and the
church in Obrovac devastated.
Cathedral church of the
Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos – built in 1810. Iconostasis painted by
Aleksa Lazovic in 1827. During Divine Services an unidentified person entered
the church and smashed the chandelier (1991–1993).
Damaged by shelling. Burglarized and a number of items stolen (1991–1993).
According to a report of the competent church authorities, the Residence was
looted and devastated. The ceiling has fallen because of rain from leaks in a
number of places (Report 10/96 of 24 September 1996).
Parish Home broken into
and objects stolen in December 1992.
Church of the Nativity
of Saint John the Baptist – built in 1730. Renovated in 1976. Roof and south
façade damaged (1991–1993).
Church of the Nativity of Saint
John the Baptist – built in 1875 on site of earlier church from 1590.
Iconostasis dates from 19th century. Church damaged (1991–1993). Forcibly
entered in August 1995. Parish Home from 16th century. During the 18th
century served as residence for Simeon Koncarevic, Bishop of Dalmatia and
author. Burglarized and vandalized by Croatian troops in August 1995. Two
other Parish Homes burglarized and looted in August 1995.
Church of the Nativity
of Saint John the Baptist – built in 1860. Iconostasis from same year painted
by Cukar. Broken into and vandalized (1991–1995).
Church of Greatmartyr Saint
George – built in two stages: first in the mid-14th century, second in 1537.
Shelled by Croatian army (1991–1993).