ON CHRISTIAN TRADITIONS


          According to the lively folk tradition, which is also confirmed by Church historians and chroniclers, the monastery Krka was built on the site where Apostle Paul preached Christianity. A testimony to the apostolic times in Dalmatia are also the words written in the New Testament (2 Tim 4:10). To these rugged regions, Apostle Paul sent his pupil Titus who was among the first bishops of the Church in Dalmatia in the period between the years of 55 and 61. When he left, Apostle Paul sent to Dalmatia another of his pupils, Hermas, who led the Church until the year of 68. Bishop Hermas' activities are also attested by his Service in which he was said to be “the brightest light of all Dalmatia where, like the radiant sun, he sent out numerous rays, and by performing his holy service he brought human spirits out of the dark and into the light.” Apostle Paul used to visit Dalmatia while Hermas served here as a bishop. In his epistle to the Romans, Apostle Paul wrote that “from Jerusalem and as far round as Illyricum I have fully preached the Gospel of Christ” (Rom 15:19). There exist preserved historical testimonies of historians and Church teachers, as well as a lively folk tradition about Apostle Paul's preaching in Illyricum, that is, Dalmatia. Ancient chronicler Matius, friar G. Vinjali}, and, later on, A. Fortis and С F. Bianchi of Zadar said that, traveling from the East to Rome, Apostle Paul took the road leading by the old Roman town of Burnum, near today's town of Kistanje, and that he stopped by the river Titus (today's Krka) where he preached about Christ. Later, on that place a monastery of St. Archangel Michael, better known as the monastery Krka, was built.
          This lively folk tradition and belief was written down in the XVII century by a famous historian J. Matius who said that he knew of an old epitaph in the Slavic language engraved in a board, which is being kept in the mentioned monastery and which attests to Apostle Paul's visit to Dalmatia. Way back in the XVII century, friar Vinjali} of the monastery of Visoko, wrote an ex­tremely extensive treatise on the historical events in Dalmatia saying: “A histori­cal manuscript without the name of the author says that, in the monastery of St. Archangel, where monks live today, the mentioned verses in the Slavic lan­guage in memory of Apostle Paul's visit to that place are written down.” Histo­rians of the Christian church, Fortis and Engel, also left written testimonies about Paul's preaching in Dalmatia. Writing about the Church in Dalmatia in 1880, precozit Bianchi of Zadar said that “until the end of the XVIII century, in the church of the monastery of St. Archangel Michael existed an ancient picture of Apostle Paul, preaching the Gospel to the Dalmatians. This picture also had appropriate inscriptions, and it showed the Dalmatians in their folk costumes.” Unfortunately, a large number of these testimonies have disappeared over the centuries or have been destroyed by enemies. While Bishop Hermas was in Dalmatia, these regions were visited by Evangelist Luke who preached Christ's Gospel there. This is also confirmed by Epiphanius in his “Panarion” (Medicine Box) (The History of Heresy). However, it is not known for sure how long Apostle Luke stayed in Dalmatia.
          After Titus and Hermas, Donatus is mentioned as the third bishop of the church in Dalmatia which he led until the 107 year as an archbishop. Afterwards Christians experienced a period of fierce per­secutions by polytheists and hardships that did not cease until 313, that is, until the Edict of Milan by which the emperor Constantine the Great pro­claimed freedom of the Christian religion.
          Strong Christian foundations in Dalmatia were laid by the monkhood, especially with the arrival of St. Hilarion in the mid IV century. Already in the first half of the VI century, at the time of Byzantine emperor Justinian (527-565), Dalmatia became part of the Byzantine Empire. This contributed to the Eastern Orthodox Christian faith being established in those regions and continually sur­viving, through enormous sufferings, until the present day.

 
 

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