Kvarner newsletter / no 34

400th anniversary of the Capuchins in Croatia

In mid-October, Rijeka celebrated the 400th anniversary of Capuchin friars arriving in this area, an event confirmed by many historic documents and valuable books. Some of these documents and books were displayed to the public for the first time in the exhibition entitled "Fragments of Capuchin History".

Four hundred years ago – more precisely, in August 1610, few Capuchins from Rijeka started building their first monastery in the area of the present Croatia. They chose the location in the centre of today's Rijeka, the district called Žabica, which today, 400 years later, hosts the first Capuchin monastery. To mark this important anniversary, in mid-October Rijeka hosted a ceremony and a scientific conference aimed at promoting the rich Capuchin heritage and raising the awareness of their importance for the development of Croatia's spiritual history.
Rijeka was the nucleus from where the Capuchins started spreading by building monasteries in Zagreb (1618), Split (1691), Varaždin (1699), Osijek (1703) and Karlobag (1710), which eventually became smaller centres of the later Capuchin province.
This is all attested by various documents, acts and books that are put to display at the exhibition entitled "Fragments of Capuchin history" in Rijeka's History and Maritime Museum of the Croatian Littoral. The exhibition includes numerous manuscripts, printed books, sacred items and other exhibits from Capuchin libraries and treasuries in Croatia. It should be emphasised that this is the first time that a part of this valuable treasure – 40 Glagolitic manuscripts from various monasteries – is presented to the public.
One of the most valuable exhibits is the Glagolitic manuscript "Fragments from the Book of Proverbs" from the second half of the 13th century, which is the oldest Glagolitic manuscript found in Rijeka and the oldest example of the Croatian Glagolitic translation of this biblical book. One of the surprises is the discovery of the Hebraic-Aramaic fragments of the Exodus, which date back to the period between the 12th and the 15th centuries. They were also found in the Capuchin Monastery of Our Lady of Lourdes in Rijeka.