SPLIT Dalmatia Croatia - Travel Guide Map
Church and Monastery of St. Francis
The Franciscan church and the friary were built on an early Christian site from the year 304, beside the grave and the chapel of St. Felix, a martyr from the time of Diocletian. The tradition places the Franciscan friars in the year 1212, but the first written records - according to researches carried by Grga Novak, a renowned historian, date from 1237. In the year 1243 the friars of the Franciscan friary met the demand of the mayor of Split and mediated in the mission of reconciliation between Split and Trogir.
During the Candian (Cretan) War for Creta (Candia) in the 15th century, the monastery was demolished on request of the town authorities, and the building material was used in the construction of the defensive tower against the Turks. The friary was built later on the same foundations, but at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century it was demolished again and rebuilt on request of the town authorities in the present-day appearance.
The church is single-flayed with four side altars in which there are valuable artworks: The Immaculate Virgin Mary by Palma Junior; St. Anthony by Ferdinand Schumann, or by Jurij Pavlović Fontana; the painted Crucifix, on the altar of the Holy Cross is the most valuable work in the church and the first work of Blaž Jurjev Trogiranin. The main altar, in which the body of St. Felix rests, was built by the altar builder Barčković at the beginning of the 20th century. The statue of St. Francis under the canopy is a copy of the work of the famous sculptor Dupre. The altar partition is also preserved; it was located at the altar of St. Felicia, being one of the finest works of religious art from the Roman time in Dalmatia, named "Crossing the Red Sea", which is now exhibited at the Archaeological Museum in Split.
The Franciscan church is known under the title of "The small Pantheon of the Croatian people" because of numerous great men buried there:
Toma Archdeacon (1200-1268),the author of "Historia Salonitana"
Marko Marulić (1450-1524), the writer and the founder of Croatian literature
fra Ivan Marko Lukačić (1585-1648), the father of Croatian baroque music and the author of the collection of "Sacre Cantiones"
Jeronim Kavanjin (1643-1714), the Croatian poet
Ante Trumbić (1864-1938), the Croatian politician
fra Bernardin Splićanin, who lived in this friary; his "Lectionary by fra Bernardin Splićanin" is the first book in Croatian language written in the Latin alphabet - it was printed in Venice in 1495.
In the treasory of the friary there are paintings, sculptures (St. Lucy - Gothic in red wood and St. Sebastian), reliquaries... The friary’s library has a valuable parchment with the drawings of tombs and the names of those who rest in them, and an archive of music materials, among which five volumes of madrigals are unique in the world.
The friary cloister was built in the 13th century in a simple style of architecture, with a covered porch, a well and Gothic columns, and each of them being different. In the porch there are various fragments of the plaque with the names of great men. Particularly worth mentioning is the plaque in the memory of the sacrifice of brother Leon and his brothers who, serving the sick, themselves died of the plague in 1607.