What Was the Name of the Glagolitic Seminary in Priko?

Benedikta Zelic-Bucan

     According to information dealing with Glagolitic clergy in Chapter 24 of the constitution of the Split diocesan synod of 1688, there were thirty-six outlying parishes in the diocese. Of these thirty-six parishes, only eight held services in Latin, while the remainder were “Croatian parishes” (“kuratije arvaske”).1 According to records collected from 1688 to 1700 by Ivan Pastric, forty-two parishes were cited in the Split diocese, seventeen of which were located on the territory of Poljica. The Poljica parishes were: Podstrana, Jesenice, Duce, Zakucac, Kucice, Gornje Polje, Donje Polje, Tugare, Kosatanje, Zvecanje, Ostrvica, Gata, Dubrava, Trnbusi, Srijane, Srinjine and Sitno.2 All of these were Glagolitic parishes; however, the number of Poljica clergy greatly exceeded the actual number of parishes they served in. The Glagolites from Poljica served as parish priests throughout the entire diocese. There were also many who were without their own parish and lived with their families. In his 1713 report to Rome, Archbishop Stefano Cupilli indicated that the urban clergy numbered sixty priests and fifteen seminarians, while priests from outlying areas numbered around 125 .3

     The archbishops or vicars general exercised authority over these priests through the outer vicar, whom they appointed from nominations submitted by the Glagolites themselves.4 The outer vicar held ecclesiastic authority over the territories of Poljica, Radobilje, the outskirts and districts of Split, and the regions of Omis and Klis.5 While Gian Battista Laghi served as archbishop, a confraternity for Glagolitic priests was founded and ratified. Members of the confraternity were to pray and celebrate requiem masses for the repose of their deceased brethren .6

     Right up to the mid-18th century, there were neither colleges nor seminaries where these Glagolites could receive a basic education or instruction in the Old Church Slavic language. Rather, individual pastors provided personal training to seminarians according to the apprenticeship system. Individual parish priests recruited gifted youngsters who served as their attendants and students. Through this process, they taught these young men what they themselves knew. However, these novices would often change teachers, especially if the priest was strict. This situation prompted Archbishop Stefano Cosmi to write to the outer vicar on 20 October 1703. In the letter, he made it clear that novices were not to move from teacher to teacher, but were to dutifully and obediently remain with the initial priest; otherwise, they would not be permitted to take their exams .7

     As far as the training of Glagolitic priests was concerned, not only were there no cultivated colleges for them, but they did not even have the necessary books for their language, which was the only one they understood. For this reason, Bishop Antun Kadcic’s initiative to write the work Moral theology (Bogoslovje diloredno) represented a significant step in their education. In 1714, Archbishop Stefano Cupilli began to build a seminary for them beside the church of St. Peter on Lucac in Split; however, he passed away before the project was completed. His objective was only realized by Archbishop Pacific Bizza in 1750, when he established a seminary in the former Franciscan hospice beside the old Croatian church of St. Peter in Priko, near Omis. This seminary lacked a prebend (stipend) or a steady source of revenue and the seminarians were required to support themselves and their instructors, while the upkeep and maintenance of the church and seminary building was left to providence and the charity of the faithful .8

     During Venetian rule (1699-1797), numerous attempts were made to obtain government support to provide a modest salary for the instructors; however, this never succeeded. Only in 1803, during the first Austrian rule (1797-1805), did the government set a monthly salary of twenty florins for the director of the seminary and fifteen florins for instructors at the seminary.9 However, even this minimal pay was discontinued during French rule (1805- 1813), when the seminary was closed for a time. During the second period of Austrian rule (1813-1918), the government again introduced the salary, but only for a brief time. Already in 1821, the seminary was closed and a central seminary established in Zadar for the entire province of Dalmatia. In this new seminary, the Glagolitic alphabet and the Old Church Slavic language were taught from the outset. However, in 1827, even this central Croatian seminary was closed and a new central Latin seminary established in its place, again in Zadar .10

     When the seminary in Priko first opened, there was one lone instructor. Later, when the number of seminarians began to rise, there were three. One of them was called the director (vladavac), the second the instructor (mestar) and the third the prefect (izvrsitelj). However, all three lectured and instructed the seminarians. The first director of the seminary was Rev. Stjepan Pivcevic, the second Rev. Ivan Bozic and the third and last one Rev. Petar Kruzicevic .11

     In the archival section of the Archaeological Museum of Split, there is kept a bundle of forty-eight documents labelled “Poljica Documents” (signature 49 h 6/I). Some of these documents were published without any accompanying notes at the beginning of the 20th century in the Split journal Bullettino di archeologia e storia dalmata.12 Among this group of documents, twenty-two reports dealt with the Glagolitic seminary in Priko for the period from 1760 to 1821.13 Included are the minutes of Archbishop Nikola Dinaricic’s 1760 visit to the seminary; two letters of Archbishop Lelio Cipico from 1793; and two letters from Venetian governors Francesco Falier and Alvise Marin, from 1784 and 1794, respectively. Most of the documents are from the 19th century. These include the correspondence of the last director of the seminary, Rev. Petar Kruzicevic, to the vicars general and Split canons: Oracijo Bergelic, Nikola Didos, Josip Koic and Nikola Koic. Also included are his letters to Makarska Bishop Fabijan Blaskovic. The majority of these letters originated during the last few years of the seminary, when its closure was imminent, and the closure was even discussed in some of them; therefore, these letters represent a significant source for the history of this important Croatian college .14

     Besides providing significant material on the seminary, this small collection of documents also offers important information for the history of the Croatian language. In these documents, we encounter the old Croatian national name (hrvatski) for the language along with the more recent bookish term Slavonic (slovinski), as well as the Italian term Illyrian (illirico). More specifically, in Italian texts, the term Illyrian (illirico) was always used, while in Croatian texts the alternate use of the terms Croatian (hrvatski) and Slavonic (slovinski) appeared, sometimes even with the same author. Thus, the Split vicars and canons regularly addressed Rev. Petar Kruzicevic as the instructor or director of the Slavonic seminary, 15 while in the text of the letters both Croatian and Slavonic are used. For example, in a letter from 16 January 1815, Split Canon Nikola Didos explains that it is the intention of the future central seminary in Zadar to offer education to the “Slavonic clergy of Priko” (“crikovnakom slovinskim od Prika”).16 In a letter from 23 August 1816, the bishop’s secretary, Josip Koic, wrote that following an outbrea
k of the plague, there were now: “Latin and Croatian priests…in total, thirty-six” (“latinski misnika i Arvatah…usve trideset i sest”).17 Makarska Bishop Fabijan Blaskovic used two terms for the seminary. In the address of a letter from 28 December 1816, Bishop Blaskovic called Rev. Petar Kruzicevic the “main educator of the Croatian seminary” (“mestar od semenaria arvaskoga”) 18 and the “main educator of the Slavonic seminary” (“mestar od seminarija slovinskoga”) in a letter from 15 July 1818 .19

     In documents that were written by Poljica or other Glagolitic priests, I have never come across the expression Slavonic for their language. They always called their language Croatian and when translating from Italian texts, the term Illyrian (illirco) was translated into Croatian (hrvatski). Thus, in the Croatian translation of Archbishop Lelio Cipico’s letter of 26 June 1793 to Omis church administrator Rev. Jakov Ognjutovic the term “chierizi illirici” is translated into “Croatian priests” (“zakni arvacki”) .20

     The above examples show that by the beginning of the 19th century, the use of the term Slavonic (slovinski) for the Croatian language and institutions of the Croatian language was still inconsistently applied, even among learned individuals. Here and there, these learned individuals continued to use the original Croatian national name alongside this “learned” expression.

     Not only did the Glagolitic clergy of Poljica call their language Croatian, but they also went out of their way to set themselves apart from their Latin colleagues who used the Latin liturgical language.21 They did this by appending to their names the term Harvacanin. In Split baptismal and marriage registries from the 17th and 18th century, which were usually completed in the administrative Italian language, there are close to 200 notes entered by Poljica Glagolites in the vernacular language. These notes were entered when they performed christenings and marriages in Split. The majority of these entries were completed in old Croatian Cyrillic (bosancica). Four of these Glagolitic priests (Mihovil Dagelic, Jakov Suturcic, Stipan Jurevic, Barisa Krcatovic) often added the attribute Harvacanin to their surnames or only to their given names when they added their entries. In using this attribute, they wished to emphasize that they were priests of the Croatian language as opposed to Latin clergy, whose liturgical language was Latin and whose language of public communication was Italian.

     In the same manner, the Croatian version of Chapter 24 of the constitution of the diocesan synod of Split from 1688, distinguishes Glagolitic clergy (“harvaski kler”) and Glagolitic parishes (“kuratije arvaske”) from the clergy and parishes using the Latin liturgy.22 In the Latin version of that chapter of the constitution, Croatian clergy are called “clerus illyricus” and Croatian parishes “parochiae Illyricorum”.23 In Article XII of the same chapter, it is specified that educated priests are to teach the seminarians the Croatian pronunciation in which their missals and breviaries are written; otherwise, the seminarians will not be ordained. In the Latin version of the constitution, the term Illyrian (illyricum) is used for the Croatian language and script.24 It is interesting to note that two years after this synod on Glagolitic clergy was held, Makarska Bishop Nikola Bjankovic translated and printed the constitution in Croatian. However, already in the very title of his version, he stated that the decisions “were translated in the Slavonic language”.25 As we can see, when writing in the Italian and Latin languages, the term Illyrian (illyricus, illirico) was used for the Croatian language, while learned Croats used the expression Slavonic (slovinski), and the simple commoner Glagolites spoke and wrote in the “Croatian” language (jezik “arvacki”), just as the people.

     The Glagolites could not even acquire the habit of using the “learned” terms for the Croatian language (Illyrian and Slavonic) because they not only lacked Croatian books, but some of them did not even know how to read all that well. This can be concluded from the previously mentioned Article XII of Chapter 24 of the synodal constitution. It should also be remembered that they did not even understand Latin or Italian. I have come across two instances in the documents of the Makarska diocese from 1769, in which parish priests expressly state that they do not understand Italian or Latin, and request their bishop to write to them in Croatian so that they can understand him .26

     As we can see from preserved documents written in Croatian Cyrillic (“arvacki”), right up to the end of the 17th century, only the Croatian national name served as the name of the Croatian language for commoners and their Glagolitic pastors. At that time, the Glagolites were the closest intelligentsia to everyday folk. The use of the term “Slavonic” (“slovinski”) as a “learned” name, as was previously characterized by Vatroslav Jagic,27 only began to penetrate later, at the turn of the 18th to 19th century. In part under the sway of learned books and foreign influences, this understanding spread widely in the first half of the 19th century. For this reason, those in Dalmatia who were followers of the Croatian National Revival under the leadership of Mihovil Pavlinovic struggled not only for the affirmation of the Croatian language in public life, but also for the affirmation of its national name among the alienated native intelligentsia and middle class.

     Taking all of this into account, it would seem necessary to return the original name to the old Croatian seminary in Priko. When writing and discussing this seminary, we should identify it in the way in which its former students and teachers identified it; that is, the Croatian Seminary (Sjemeniste hrvatsko). To continue using the old term Illyrian (ilirisko), which was used in documents of the Italian and Latin languages, as well as the vague term Slavonic (slovinski) from Croatian documents of the learned class of past centuries, would only show that to this very day we have not overcome the biased belief that everything foreign is better and more learned than our Croatian national name. To continue to support these non-national and inadequate terms (Illyrian and Slavonic) would signify in our time not learnedness, but a petite bourgeoise mentality.

      Translated by Stan Granic

     *The original reads “Kako se zvalo glagoljasko sjemeniste u Priku?” and first appeared in Marulic, 3, no. 3 (Zagreb, 1970), 17-21. It was later included in Benedikta Zelic-Bucan, Jezik i pisma Hrvata. Rasprave i clanci (Split: Matica hrvatska, 1997), 19-24. The translator thanks the author for clarifying certain parts of the essay; Dr. Vinko Grubisic of the University of Waterloo for his assistance during the translation process; and Matthew Pavelich for reading the manuscript and providing his editorial comments.



     1 Vladimir Mosin, “Poljicke konstitucije iz 1620. i 1688. godine,”Radovi staroslavenskog instituta, 1 (Zagreb, 1952), 194.

     2 Fontes historici liturgiae glagolito-romanae a XIII ad XIX saeculum, ed. Luka Jelic (Veglae [Krk]: Sumptibus Academiae Palaeoslavicae Veglensis, 1906), XVII, 61-63.

     3 Fontes, XVIII, 9.

;  4 M…c, “Njekoji prilozi o glagoljici,” Narod, no. 10 (Split, 1894).

     5 Fontes, XIX, 75.

     6 M…c, “Njekoji,” Narod, no. 6. In the Historical Archives of Split (Historijski arhiv u Splitu HAS), in a small collection entitled “Poljica Documents” (“Poljicki spomenici“), there is a document that lists all the requiem masses said for members of this confraternity from 1790 to 1820 (signature 3KA/PS-15). From the list one can see that membership in the confraternity was composed of Glagolites of the archdiocese, many respected members of the higher urban clergy and even some eminent laymen.

     7 Miroslav Vulic, “Pravila glagoljaskog sjemenista u Priku,” Croatia sacra, 15-16 (Zagreb, 1938), 74.

     8 Ivan Pivcevic, “Sjemeniste u Priku,” in Program c. k. Velike gimnazije u Splitu za sk. god. 1911-12, 47 (Split, 1912), 7.

     9 Pivcevic, p. 9.

     10 Pivcevic, p. 11.

     11 Pivcevic, p. 8.

     12 See the supplemental sections in: Bullettino di archeologia e storia dalmata, 22 (Split, 1900) and 24 (Split, 1901).

     13 Having worked on these documents some ten years ago while preparing my work Bosancica u srednjoj Dalmaciji, Prilog 3. svesku Izdanja Historijskiog arhiva – Split (Split: Historijskog arhiva, 1961), I classified these Poljica documents according to contents. With the approval of the administration of the Museum, I classified them into series I to III, with each individual document assigned a number. Documents dealing with the seminary in Priko were arranged in the first series and marked with numbers 1-20, plus 1a, 2a and 3a. Documents I/1-20 formed part of the archives of the actual seminary, while document I/2a is the Croatian transcription of document I/2 and documents I/1a and I/3a were subsequently taken from series II (“Pisma providura i drugi spisi koji se odnose na polji ku republiku”) because their contents dealt with the seminary in Priko.

     14 As far as I could ascertain, to date these documents on the Croatian seminary in Priko, which are housed in the Archeological Museum of Split, have never been published. Concise information on the contents of these letters are provided in my article: “Upotreba bosancice u Splitu i okolici,” Mogucnosti, 3, no. 11 (Split, 1956), 869-875.

     15 Archaeological Museum of Split (hereafter AMS), “Poljicke isprave,” signature 49 h 6/I, documents 6, 7, 8, 11, 12 and 13.

     16 AMS, “Poljicke isprave,” sign. 49 h 6/I, document 7.

     17 AMS, “Poljicke isprave,” sign. 49 h 6/I, document 13.

     18 AMS, “Poljicke isprave,” sign. 49 h 6/I, document 12.

     19 AMS, “Poljicke isprave,” sign. 49 h 6/I, document 13.

     20 AMS, “Poljicke isprave,” sign. 49 h 6/I, document 2a.

     21 The language of Croatian Glagolitic religious books to the 17th century was completely under the influence of the vernacular speech. For this reason, Modrus Bishop Simun Kozicic could legitimately title his missal, which was printed in Rijeka in 1531, the Croatian Missal (Misal hruacki). The Poljica Glagolites who largely lived as peasants, had a very difficult time in obtaining church books. This is testified to in Chapter 24 (Article XII) of the constitution of the Split synod from 1688 and in articles LX and CIX of Archbishop Sforza Ponzon’s ruling from 1620. It is also likely that they could not have immediately obtained the new missal prepared by friar Rafael Levakovic (Rome, 1631) which had been completely russified. To deal with the shortage of books, Archbishop Dinaricic was still advising the clergy of the seminary at Priko, in the latter half of the 18th century, to transcribe from old books and manuscripts in their possession. Based on this, it can be presumed that their liturgical language differed very little from the existing Croatian vernacular. For this reason, it is understandable that they called themselves Croatian clergy and used Harvacanin to identify themselves.

     22 Mosin, p. 194.

     23 Mosin, p. 194.

     24 “Zasto osobito s(veta) m(ater) c(rkva) dopusti ovoj ruci privilej harvackoga izgovora u misi, zato ima se nastojati da se dobro uce i nauce razumiti slovi…kako u knjigah uzdarze. Zakni imaju se nauciti bukvicu i juciniti se nauciti se od redovnikov naucni izgovor arvacki slovi nasi, kako izgovara misal i barvija; inako nece biti urdinani buduci tako zapovijeno, i kako nasi po knjizi imaju govoriti se… razumiti tako harvaski na nihov zakon barvarija.”/”Quoniam peculiari, et speciosissimo Sanctae Matris Ecclesiae privilegio in idiomate Illyrico sacra habetur liturgia, maxima habenda est ratio eiusdem idiomatis probe ediscendi, et dicendi. Clerici noverint azbuquidarium, atque a pertis Sacerdotibus erudiantur, qui in eam precipue curam, incubeant, ut illyricum literale, quo Missale et Breviarium conscripta sunt, perfecte calleant alioquin sciant, se ad Ordines non promovendos, cum apud Illyricos eadem sit ratio illyrici idiomatis litdteralis, quae apud nostros Latini. Mosin, p. 196. [In English it would read: “Since the Holy Mother Church especially allows to this hand the privilege of using the Croatian language in the mass, they must endeavor to learn well and master the script…which is contained in the books. The priests must learn the alphabet and be instructed by the monks on the correct pronunciation of our Croatian letters as they are contained in our missals and breviaries. Otherwise, as it is proclaimed, they shall not be ordained. It was ordered so and now our priests must conform themselves to our books…to understand Croatian in order to follow their duties according to their breviaries.” trans.]

     25 Mosin, p. 178.

     26 Archives of the Diocese of Makarska, volume 74. Letter of Rev. Jakov Piunovic, pastor of Rascani, 22 September 1769 and letter of Rev. Pavao Ursic, pastor of Brela, 23 October 1769. Fascicle 74 contains the correspondence of Bishop Stjepan Blaskovic to his parish priests from 1768 to 1769. There are 376 letters in total. Of these, three are written in the Croatian language using the Roman script, one in the Italian language and the remainder were written in the Croatian language using the Croatian Cyrillic script.

     27 Vatroslav Jagic, Historija knjizevnosti naroda hrvatskoga i srpskoga (Zagreb: Vatroslav Jagic, 1867), p. 3.