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Author Topic: my visit to Orthodox forsaken Catholic Croatia  (Read 1544 times) Average Rating: 0
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Sloga
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« on: August 28, 2006, 01:36:55 AM »

Yesterday I came back from my summer trip to Serbia/Croatia. In total I spent 2 weeks in Serbia and 2 weeks in Croatia, But I will be sharing my experiences for the latter.

I went with family members (1st cousins) to visit our home town Zadar on the coast of Dalmatia. Just for the sake of knowing, before the war it was 20% serbian but now it is not even 2%, so to be honest I was not comfortable there in the beginning since speaking Serbian and being Orthodox were not something people really tolerated there and multiple times violent confrontations have occured since the war. We arrived the day after St Elijah. The very first thing I noticed when I got off the bus was that when greeting your awaiting family and friends, the 3 time kiss is a big no no especially when around crowds. The second thing I noticed was the small Orthodox minorty could be told apart from catholic Croats, which my cousin quickly pointed out to me;
1-almost all the Orthodox (Serbs) wore the woolen wrist bracelet with the Theotokos/Cross design
2-"                                      "  men wore their wedding ring on the left hand.

It relieved me and made me happy that the Orthodox or Serbs were making an attempt to make it known to eachother of their existance. Too bad I hadnt brought my wrist bracelet, which I left in Canada because it had a slight tear in it. The next day, is the Croatian national holiday of Operation Storm when in 1995 they took over Serbian Krajina and had forced the serbs to leave their 500 year old land. The day was also my cousin's birthday, which sort of bothered him.

Early that morning, he asked me if I wanted to go downtown to visit the St Elijah church, which had completely left my mind. I had forgotten it was the only Orthodox church left in a radius of 100 km, and it was right in the middle of the "old roman" part of the city. Of course I agreed and once we got there, the first and most obvious thing I saw was the graffity on the church- a couple of swastikas and a sentance or two about hanging serbs and telling them to go home. Second, I noticed I had been staring at the church for a good 30 sec and we were not yet going inside. I asked why the hold up and he explained to me that since this is one of the busiest parts of the town, people are walking by and we should make sure no one sees us go in because it is not uncommon for people to assault the visitors of the church once they get out.

Once we entered, It became clear to me that this was like a "part-time" church. It was nice inside though. It was built over 2 centuries ago for Greek sailers to have a place for worship. About 60 years ago it became a Serbian Orthodox Church. We chatted with the priest for a while then lit candles. I gave a small donation and was happy to see I was not the only one to have done so. Although for the 15 minutes we were there, no else was there but the priest. The church holds liturgy once every two weeks, which I found a little strange but understandibly so. Excactly on our way out we encountered some Polish tourists (I forgot to mention: Zadar during the summer is a mega-tourist attraction) coming in. Then I heard the Priest start talking to them and I got a bad feeling because I felt as if so it were more of a tourist object to be seen, and the priest a tourguide. But they can only do what the government wants them to do so I understood. On our way out no one really spotted us so for me that was a little relief, but I couldnt help not look back at the graffity which really bothered me.

For now thats all, but tomorrow after work I will continue the rest...

Peace be with us all.
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« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2006, 04:43:56 AM »

How much that lonely little Church of St. Elijah represents the Orthodox Church today. Battered, bruised, abandoned, visited by tourists who see it as exotic and who leave to go on to the next attraction to distract them.
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« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2006, 10:21:34 PM »

so to be honest I was not comfortable there in the beginning since speaking Serbian and being Orthodox were not something people really tolerated there and multiple times violent confrontations have occured since the war.

Correct me if I am mistaken, I thought Serbian and Croatian were the same langauge with the difference being the Serbs use the Cyrillic alphabet and the Croats the Latin alphabet.  Are you referring to some dialectical or accentual differences that would easily give away your nationality?  I'd really like to know.  Thanks.

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« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2006, 10:25:09 PM »

Correct me if I am mistaken, I thought Serbian and Croatian were the same langauge with the difference being the Serbs use the Cyrillic alphabet and the Croats the Latin alphabet.  Are you referring to some dialectical or accentual differences that would easily give away your nationality?  I'd really like to know.  Thanks.

The languages are mutually intelligible, and were considered the same language until the 1990s, but the accents are different such that a Croat can tell a Serb immediately, and there are some grammatical differences (Serbian's being sucked into the Balkan sprachbund and has limited use of the infinitive now).
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« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2006, 12:22:33 PM »

Sloga,

Your story is a sad, but all to familiar one.  I think actually seeing it and living it is something different and certainly nothing you'll learn from a textbook or newspaper article.

Please provide us with more info.

As for the language thing.  I think if one desired you could make it indistinguishable, however, there are certain words Croats use, that we don't and vice versa. 

Hiljada - Tisuca comes to mind.

We say the former for "thousand"  and they say the latter.
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« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2006, 10:34:03 PM »

Croatians, especially after the war, have made SURE that there are no "serbian" words in their vocabulary and "language" anymore. 

For example, instead of a Croatian person using the word "ajrodrom" for airplane, they will now use "svemirplov" which is litterally "boat in the air" just so that they don't have to use the "Serbian" word.  An airport is "svemirplovska luka" which is "the port for the boat in the air" so they are now trying to seperate the languages as much as possible. 

Orriginally the dialects are VERY similar.  There are definate differences, and you would be able to distinguish a Croatian or Serbian person very quickly, based on accent, vocabulary, etc. 

And you are right about the alphabet.  Serbs still use Cyrillic, whereas Croatians refuse to, and use Latin letters. 
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« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2006, 10:50:41 PM »


And you are right about the alphabet.  Serbs still use Cyrillic, whereas Croatians refuse to, and use Latin letters. 

Huh? It would not make sense for Croatians to have used Cyrillic becuase their liturgical language was Latin. In the medieval times, people wrote in the language that their liturgy or religious text was in.  So Greek speaking Muslims wrote Greek in Arabic, Turkish Christians wrote Turkish in Greek letters, etc etc etc.  Perhaps the very small number of Croats that used the Glagolithic alphabet for liturgy until the early 1900's, but this was Glagolithic and not Cyrillic...also, I have seen plenty of photos from Serbia and websites in Serbian that use latinica alongside or even in preference to Cyrillic. So your statement seems a bit exaggerated.

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« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2006, 11:51:22 PM »

Point well taken.  I had forgotten about that.  You're right..I did overexagerate... Smiley

I was trying to think if they had ever used Cyrilic, but after some thought I realized that no they havn't ever really used it. 

You're right also about Serbs using Latinica, but if you go to Serbia now there is a HUGE resurgence of Cyrilic writing everywhere.  You can use either alphabet for official documentation, but they lean heavily on Cyrilic WITHIN Serbia and Latinica for things outside of Serbia (in my experience). 

Sorry for the overexageration.  I'm pretty tired, so I blew things out of proportion a little... Wink
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« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2006, 12:06:52 AM »

Sorry for the slight pause...I've been working like a horse Cheesy

Another interesting thing that happened while I was there occured maybe my 10th day there. All over the newspaper there was a title called "Serbs drawing all over Croatia". It was referring to some graffity that appeared in a croatian village. Now I remember it said "This is Serbia, St Sava" and had the Cross with 4c. Then it was signed by a "tool" name I cant remember, but it is significant because it was a serb only word and it was spelt wrong. I have never seen such an obvious attempt to frame the serbs- learn to write a few words in Cyrillic (all be it incorrectly), make an obvious ultra-nationalist statement then out of nowhere mention the founder of the Serb Orthodox Church.

Meanwhile, I had made my visit to my hometown; Smokovic. A village on the outskirts of Zadar, it was the most western Serb settlement in Croatia, infact it was malely 100% Serbian ( my mother and one aunt were the only non-serbs). Of course, it became completely destroyed, my house was demolished (along with all other 150 or so houses), the church completely vanished from the grounds it once stood on, and mines planted in the graveyard for anyone wishing to visit. Oh yea, the new sign that was put up with the name Smokovic (every village/city there has a sign once you enter telling you where you are) was spraypainted black and underneath was written "Zone". Few people have returned (all ages 65+)and they all told me they are not allowed to go out at night because of the constant harassment and attacks they suffer. It was my 3rd timevisiting Smokovic since I left and I thought it would bother m less and less, but it has done nothing but the opposite.

Believe it or not, there was some good in all this. My last day there, I went back to St. Elijah's to ask the priest if any of the documents/artifacts from the former church in Smokovic, St George had been saved and where I could see them. To my dissapointement (but not to surprise), the priest was not there but rather an elderly man who explained to me that the priest went up North to the (only) Orthodox Monastary at a place called Krk. I always knew about the place but thought it was similar to this and maybe even abandoned. He told me that thee was some gathering there, which I thought nothing of and wentback home. Later in the day A cousin told me there was something at our monastary at Krk and asked if I wished to go. Of course I said yes and off we went for the 150 km trip, passing through villages that were once inhabitated by Serbs but now are either ghost towns or only croats. On the way up north I may have seen about 5 abondoned/destroyed Orthodox churches. Once we reached Kistanje (Just outside of Krk) things became a little strange...
First I saw a car with a Belgrade plate, then I saw more serbian plates. As we headed on the path towards the monastary, I knew something big was happening because there were not hundreds, but THOUSANDS of cars. Now let me explain to you, the path towards Krk is a steep downhill snake-like road. They did not let any of the cars go down, you had to walk down. They path was so steep and tiring that the lazy way she was walking, the front of my cousins flip-flop broke and she had to walk barefooted all the way down  Cheesy. As we got closer and closer, the sound of serbian narodna music was getting louder and louder. I couldnt believe this! On our way down, fellow travellers told us that the day before, there were over 10 000 serbs there! The first thing I noticed, even before the mass crowds of people around the monastary, was the SOC's flag flying high. I found this impossible to believe, it was like I was in Serbia, but in fact I was in the heart of Croatia, where the serbian population no longer lived.

I had a great time there, the valley it's located in is so beautiful and the monastery itself bears the name of St Archangel Michael which is also my guardian Saint and slava! I bought a bracelet there which a priest prayed for in holy water. I also left a generous donation..urghh..In Canadian though because I had no kunas left Roll Eyes There must have been around 8000 people there, which is something phenominal considering I expected about 200.

All in all, that was my main experience in Croatia. Although many of you may say the bad outweighs the good, I like to say that "a little good can often defeat a lot of bad". I guess I was just happy to see that the Orthodox church still exists in Croatia...
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« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2006, 12:11:13 AM »

And I'd just like to state; Yes Anastasios, for the most point, you are right but I dont think you know one important fact. Latinica in Serbia practically did not exist in Serbia before the existance of Yugoslavia. After the formation of the country, to bring Croats and Serbs together, they learnt cyrillic and we learnt latinica. Latinica is still popular because it is sort of english like, but also because we have not been able to rid ourselves of it. Croats however, quickly elminated cyrillic (and yes it was well understood and used a little there). More than 2/3 of the 30+ population in Croatia know or knew cyrillic.
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« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2006, 12:42:26 AM »

  Hiljada - Tisuca comes to mind.
We say the former for "thousand"  and they say the latter.

Hiljada- similar to hiliades (χιλιαδες) in greek.

Also the area of Serbia Metohia (μετοχια/μετοχιον)  means something like 'place' literally in greek or commonly refers to a type of monastic settlement...

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« Reply #11 on: August 30, 2006, 07:29:09 AM »

Sloga,

I don't know if you knew but Krka used to be the most pre-eminent Seminary in the Serbian Orthodox Church.  Anyone who ever went there is considered "top of the line" in terms of knowledge and spirituality.  They havn't had a seminary there for quite some time though.  They have reestablished the place as of 2003.  Here is a little clip about it...i'll try to translate it later...i'm also running a little late. 

Srpska pravoslavna bogoslovija u manastiru Krka
 OBNOVLJENA BOGOSLOVIJA
 
 Odlukom Svetog arhijerejskog sabora u maju 2001. g. Srpska pravoslavna bogoslovija "Sveta Tri Jerarha" ponovo počinje radom u manastiru Krka. Te godine je Bogoslovija imala samo jedan razred i 12 učenika. Danas je Bogoslovija mnogo uznapredovala. U tri razreda ima 40 redovnih i 10 vanrednih učenika, kojima Hristovu nauku predaju 9 predavača, na čelu sa episkopom Dalmatinskim G.G. Fotijem, koji ujedno vrÅ¡i dužnost rektora bogoslovije.
 Bogoslovija "Sveta Tri Jerarha" u manastiru Krki je najstarija srpska bogoslovija. Nju je osnovao 1615. mitropolit dabrobosanski kir Teodor, čije je sjediÅ¡te bilo u to vrijeme u manastiru Rmnju. Bogata istorija manastira Krke je ujedno i istorija Bogoslovije. Kako je živio srpski narod u Dalmaciji, tako je i Å¡kola imala svoje svijetle i teÅ¡ke trenutke. Nekoliko puta Å¡kola je mijenjala mjesto, ali je uvijek bila vezana za manastir Krku, jer je manastir bio i ostao centar duhovnosti pravoslavne Dalmacije.
 U analima bogoslovije je svijetlim slovima ispisano ime blaženopočivÅ¡eg episkopa Stefana Boce u čije vrijeme (1964.) Bogoslovija, u teÅ¡kim trenutcima za Srpsku Crkvu, počinje ponovo da radi. Tu su i imena mnogih profesora koji su se trudili da u srca mladih bogoslova usade ljubav hrišćansku, ljubav prema Bogu i ljubav prema bližnjem. Ta nauka i ta ljubav iznjedrile su mnogo episkopa, sveÅ¡tenika i monaha Srpske crkve.
 Bogoslovija je uvijek dijelila sudbinu sa narodom, pa tako i olujne '95-e kada je premjeÅ¡tena najprije u Divčibare, a potom u Srbinje, odakle se, čim su se stekli uslovi, vraća u svoju kolijevku, manastir Krku.
 Bogata prosvjetna tradicija ovog drevnog manastira tako je produžena.
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