The Croatian Glagolitic Heritage*
© On this web site with kind permssion of
Stan Granic (Croatian Academy of America),
translator from Croatian
On 11 May 1963, on the feast day of the
Holy Brothers Cyril and Methodius (according to Eastern rite), Pope
John XXIII solemnly signed, in the presence of the representatives of
all Slavic nations, his apostolic letter Magnifici eventus. This
commenced the celebration of the 1100th anniversary of the initial activities
of the Holy Brothers.
Pope John XXIII's pronouncement reminds
us of Pope Leo XIII's encyclical Grande munus. Leo XIII's encyclical
was published in 1880 and marked the beginning of a new epoch, not only
in the promotion of unity among the Slavic peoples, but also in the
promotion of Slavic studies in general.
Leo XIII's encyclical was accepted quite
poorly by the Romanic and Germanic nations, and even the disunified
Slavs viewed it only as Roman propaganda. On the contrary, Pope John
XXIII's pronouncement received a great response from Germans, who organized
an important Slavist congress in Salzburg from 12-16 May 1963. This
congress not only dealt with the analysis of scientific questions, but
was also at the same time a religious manifestation. This event appeared
to be a sort of compensation for those religious manifestations that
fell short in the very lands where the Holy Brothers lived and worked,
and where they could only be spoken of as philosophers and enlighteners.
The Holy Brothers, Greek by origin, were
born in Salonika (Thessalonika), Macedonia, where a large Slavic element
was found along with the Greek population. At first they were high ranking
state officials, then monks, missionaries among the Khazars at the Sea
of Azov, and finally, in 863 they left for Moravia or Morava, where
they were sent (as is taught) by Byzantine Emperor Michael III on the
invitation of Duke Rastislav. In Moravia they introduced the Slavic
liturgy and established a Slavic hierarchy. St. Cyril died in Rome,
in 869 and St. Methodius in Moravia, in 885.
Based on the words "Moravian Duke Rastislav,"
Czech slavists concluded, and others following their lead, that we are
dealing with the Czech province of Moravia. However, there were authors
who held, and there are authors who hold today, that this was not Czech
Moravia, but the city of Morava in Sirmium, after which the principality
of Moravia was named.
Thus, Serbian historian Sima Lukin Lazic
asserted that: "In the 9th century St. Methodius founded a separate
Serbian Archbishopric of Moravia, that was based in Sirmium, in the
city of Morava, near today's Moravic."1
According to Lazic, the Holy Brothers were Serbs and founders of the
Serbian Church. Lazic does not cite any documents to support his thesis.
In his history of the parish and village
of Morovic, Emerik Gasic states: "Tradition...holds that as the Pannonian
archbishop, St. Methodius held court for a time in Morovic, and Morava
or Moravia are in fact Moravic."2
It is especially important to mention
the extensive study of Hungarian historian Imre Boba, a professor at
the University of Washington.3 On the basis
of numerous historical documents and archeological finds, he asserts
that this was not the Czech province of Moravia, but the Pannonian city
of Moravi or Moravii and the principality of the same name, Moravi.
Furthermore, based on a philological analysis of Old Church Slavic documents
of that era, it becomes clear that these documents do not belong to
Czech-Moravian territory. Based on these documents, Boba holds that
the Moravian principality was located south of the Danube River, not
north. The center of the principality was the city of Moravia or Morava,
and that would be Sirmium (Mitrovica). According to other authors, Moravia
was located near Moravic (Vele Moravie), where according to the
chronicler from Fulda, "Rastislav's indescribable castle" was located
("illam ineffabilem Rastizi munitionem omnibus antiquissimis dissimilem").
Church prescriptions and laws also support
the location of Moravie. Be it in the Eastern or Western Church, bishops
are named to serve a certain bishopric or see and not a province. This
is why we have the Eastern patriarchates of Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem,
Constantinople and Pec, and the Western bishoprics of Rome, Zagreb and
Krizevci (even if the bishop of this last one dwells in Zagreb). Only
with the establishment of the national churches does the term Patriarch
of Russia, Bulgaria and Serbia appear. However, even this last one carries
the title of "Pec Archbishop". In this way, "patriarch" gains a wider
meaning, similar to the term "pope" in the Roman Church.
Pope Hadrian II ordained Methodius for
the See of St. Andronicus and St. Andronicus was the bishop of Sirmium.
For this reason, the Morava mentioned in the Vita Clementis must
be identical to Sirmium, the one-time seat of St. Andronicus. The Vita
Clementis stresses that the bishop of Morava is in Pannonia: "episkopos
Morabos tes Panonias".
During the last hundred years much has
been written about the activities of the Apostles to the Slavs. On the
basis of the so- called legend (biography) of the Holy Brothers, who
truly were legendary in many ways, it was felt that among other things
St. Cyril invented the Glagolitic script and that he introduced the
Eastern liturgy to Moravia. Concerning the Glagolitic script, this question
has been the main topic of discussion up until today. The most recent
investigations, especially after the Second World War, have given us
new views on the question of this script and liturgy.
According to Boba's opinion, the majority
of Croatian provinces were included in Methodius' metropolitan. For
that reason, we can easily understand how practically all Glagolitic
missals and breviaries mention the feast of the Holy Brothers, while
a large portion of them even had their own service.
The term Glagolitic (glagoljica)
is today understood as three things: the Glagolitic alphabet, the Croatian
Old Church Slavic religious service or liturgy, and finally, the Glagolitic
bibliography, that is, all that was written in the Glagolitic script.
Originally the term Glagolitic (glagoljica)
was only related to the script, which received its name from the fourth
letter of the Slavic alphabet. This letter was called "glagolju"
(older version "glagoljo") and meant "I speak". In this form,
the name Glagolitic (glagoljica) originated from the 14th century.
Later, especially in common use, Glagolitic (glagoljica) became
the term signifying Glagolitic church services, and finally, as we already
stated, encompassing all that was written in the Glagolitic script.
We wish to provide an overview of the
origin of the Glagolitic alphabet, Glagolitic church service and a survey
of the Glagolitic bibliography.
II. The Croatian Glagolitic Alphabet
Besides the Etruscan script, the Latin
alphabet, the Greek alphabet and the Gothic rune, two other scripts
were also found in Europe that were used by the Slavic peoples: Cyrillic,
which is today in its modern form the national script of Russians, Ukrainians,
Bulgars, Serbs, Macedonians and Montenegrins, that is, the Eastern and
Southern Slavs who use the Byzantine rite in the church; and Glagolitic,
which with few exceptions belonged and today exclusively belongs to
the Croatian people.
From where did the Croats receive the
Glagolitic alphabet? This question has interested and today still interests
learned Slavists. Different theories on the origin of the Glagolitic
script have existed and today new ones are being introduced. A number
of the most important theories follow.
The Jerome theory, in the narrow
sense of the word, attributes the origin of the Glagolitic alphabet
to St. Jerome, the Church Doctor (died ca. 420), who was born in the
Dalmatian city of Stridon, that is, on the territory that Croats settled
from the 6th to 7th century. This theory is historically clearly expressed
in the 1248 rescript of Pope Innocent IV to Filip, the Bishop of Senj.
According to the opinion of professor Josip Hamm, this theory was not
older than the 11th century and was devised by Glagolitic priests (Glagolites)
in defense against the attacks of the Latin- Roman priests in Dalmatia,
who were against the Glagolitic liturgy, especially during the period
of Cluniac reforms.4
The well known Czech Slavist, Josef Dobrovsky,
went even further and claimed that the Glagolitic script originated
only in the 14th century, as a concession to Orthodox Cyrillic.5
Dobrovsky's assertion was refuted by the noted Czech historian and Slavist
Gelasius Dobner,6 who revealed that Glagolitic
codices already existed long before the 14th century and today we know
that some originated in the 10th century. The claim that St. Jerome
constructed an unknown script was even found in Maurus Hrabanus in the
8th century.7 It is true that he did not
claim it to be the Glagolitic alphabet. Nevertheless, the assertion
directs us already to the 8th century. Therefore, this theory, whether
true or false, had its basis in a thousand year old belief.
Michael Hocij associated the Jerome theory
to Aethicus' Cosmography. Aethicus wrote his Cosmography
in Greek, which St. Jerome abbreviated in Latin. According to the investigations
of Karl A.F. Pertz, Jerome's Breviarum was written between 396
This assertion was rejected by Hans Lowe,8
who placed the work after 768. According to Lowe, Aethicus was a pseudonym,
while Aethicus' Latin revealed signs of the Irish orthography. As a
result, Lowe concluded that the author was in fact the Irishman Virgil,
bishop of Salzburg from 743, who hid under the authority of St. Jerome.
Some believe that this is related to the Jerome theory on the origin
of the Glagolitic script, while Vittorio Peri, as we shall see, held
a different view. In all likelihood, Virgil knew the Glagolitic script,
and that means that the Glagolitic alphabet already existed, if not
from the time of St. Jerome, than at least during Virgil's time, that
is, in the 8th century.
The Jerome theory, which holds that the
origin of the Glagolitic script must be sought prior to the 9th century,
that is, before the missionary work of the Holy Brothers Cyril and Methodius,
has today been abandoned.9
When Slavic science began to develop
at the close of the 18th century, a new theory arose, called the Cyrillo-Methodian
theory. This theory has dominated until today and has gathered around
itself the most followers. Slavists rejected the Jerome theory as impossible
and declared St. Cyril the inventor of the Slavic alphabet, who allegedly
used Greek minuscule as its base. For evidence they especially cite
the following four monuments: a) the Life of Constantine (St.
Cyril); b) the Croatian Chronicle (Hrvatski ljetopis),
today known as the Chronicle of the Priest of Dioclea (Duklja);
c) the tractate (short treatise) on the origin of the Slavic script
written by monk Hrabr; and d) the letter of Pope John VIII from 880.
The first three monuments have been preserved in transcriptions from
the 14th and 15th centuries, and especially the first two, in a legendary
fashion, speak how St. Cyril, after a long fast and many prayers, was
enlightened and invented the Slavic alphabet. The fourth monument, the
letter of Pope John VIII, undoubtedly acknowledges that: "Then Constantine,
the former philosopher, invented the Slavic letters in which you righteously
praise the Lord..." ("Litteras denique Sclavinicas a Constantino
quondam philosopho reppertas, quibus Deo laudes debite resonent, iure
However, not one of the monuments mentions
which Slavic alphabet it was, Glagolitic or Cyrillic. This problem was
solved by the Croatian Slavist Vatroslav Jagic,11
and this was more due to his reputation rather than actual proof. He
observed that from the paleographic viewpoint, the Glagolitic script
was older than the Cyrillic script and therefore concluded: the script
invented by St. Cyril was the Glagolitic and not the Cyrillic, which
carries his name, and which would, therefore, have to be, according
to the opinion of some, Cyril's script. This well known Slavist did
not consider the possibility that the Glagolitic alphabet could be even
older than St. Cyril himself.
As we have stated, this theory was considered
the only correct hypothesis for many years. However, modern science
has also shook its foundations.
Leaving aside the various other theories,
which have not left deeper tracks, we mention the Gothic theory.
Although this theory did not have much response, nevertheless, it was
mentioned with some persistence. This theory was defended among Croats
by professor Kerubin Segvic,12 who formulated
his opinion mostly on historical facts. According to him, Croats arrived
in their present homeland already as Christians who followed Arianism
and therefore, their Bible was translated from Ulfilas' Bible,13
while the Glagolitic alphabet was based on Gothic rune.
The Gothic theory was also put forward
by Klement Grubisic.14 Grubisic felt that
St. Cyril modelled rune according to the Greek uncial script and added
letters that were not found in the Gothic rune.
This theory was also
followed by Hamm,15
although beginning from a different viewpoint. Hamm paleographically,
or better, graphically revealed the similarities between the Glagolitic
script and the Gothic rune. His theory was also based on philology.
He attempted to show the similarity in morphology, syntax, and lexica
between Ulfilas' and the Slavic translation of the Holy Scriptures.
Later, professor Hamm named his theory "the migratory hypothesis," associating
it to the fact that the Goths once lived on present-day Croatian territory
and have even left some monuments. This only left one to show that there
existed ties between the Croats and Goths.
This theory has also been abandoned.
Arian Christianity spread only sporadically and could have entered Croatian
regions by other paths and not necessarily directly via the Goths. Philological
similarities can be found in all old translations of the Holy Scriptures
as they all had as their basis the Greek original (with the exception
of the Gospel according to St. Matthew, which was written in Aramaic).
The newest theories have returned
to the oldest theory: that the Glagolitic script is older than St. Cyril.
Even if this theory has never completely disappeared, today there are
those who are returning to it, especially foreign specialists. Of the
specialists who held that the Glagolitic script existed before St. Cyril,
we must mention Ivan Ohienko, Emil Georgiev, and especially Michael
Hocij, who already in 1940 wrote a detailed treatise on the origin of
the Glagolitic script. This treatise remained unnoticed as a consequence
of the war, but was brought to light by Wilhelm Lettenbauer in 1953.16
Hocij believed that the Glagolitic script
developed from pre- Carolingian cursive of the 7th and 8th centuries
and especially from Merovingian and Italo-Lombardian cursive. Only in
a few cases were Glagolitic letters derived from another script, and
not from cursive forms. The alphabet developed in such a way that the
Glagolitic writers endeavored to simplify the traits (strokes) of the
letters, always keeping the strokes to the right, and not returning
left and then right, as was the case in Roman letters. By employing
this technique the writer lessened his toil. According to the views
of Hocij, the alphabet was not invented by one person, but developed
little by little. He placed its origin in the 8th century on the Venetian-Istrian
territory. The time, therefore, corresponds to the activities of the
Gallic Benedictine monks who were missionaries on Croatian soil, and
the place of origin is actually the territory of the Aquileian patriarchate.
On the basis of philological studies
of Old Church Slavic terminology, Petar Skok arrived at a similar conclusion.17
I believe that this analysis in its entirety
justifies the conclusion of the provenance of the missionary activities
from Aquileia to Croatian lands in the 8th and 9th centuries. The historical
study of documents can only lead to strengthened linguistic conclusions.
As a result, our Glagolitic script developed on the territory evangelized
from Aquileia.18 According to
the assertions of the Russian Archimandrite Antonin Kapustin, who in
the last century travelled to Mount Athos and to the Holy Land, Glagolitic
documents on Mount Athos, as well as in the Monastery of St. Catharine
on Mount Sinai, were stored in chests together with Latin and not with
Eastern codices. As a result, it is evident that they considered them
In the oldest Glagolitic texts one can
find many passages from the Vulgate as well as many Germanic elements
that only could have entered from Western and not Eastern texts.
During the 1985 congress held in Rome
on the 1100th anniversary of the death of St. Methodius, professor Frantisek
Mares shared his one-sided belief that all Old Church Slavic texts (documents)
were of Byzantine origin and were later spread to other peoples from
Czech Moravia. However, renowned Slavic specialist, professor Tambora,
from the University of Bologna, stressed that the so-called Opus
Methodianum contained forty-three prayers of Latin origin. These
forty-three prayers do not have corresponding texts in the Greek-Byzantine
rite and are manifestly translations of Western missionaries, not Eastern.
The well known Bulgarian Slavist, professor
Ivan Dujcev, from Sofia (died in the spring of 1986), asserted that
the words krst (cross), oltar (alter), kum (godfather),
etc. found in the Byzantine-Slavic rite, were of Latin origin, that
is, they originated from the Latin words crux, altare,
cumpater, etc. and not from the Greek stavros, mension,
etc. This is the best evidence that Latin missionaries from Frankish
lands operated in Bulgaria before Greek missionaries, and consequently
before the Holy Brothers and their disciples. It also reveals that Latin
terminology sprouted deep roots in Bulgaria and Macedonia, that neither
the Holy Brothers, their followers, nor later Greek missionaries, could
Both university professor M. Capaldo
of Palermo and professor W.E. Veder of the Catholic University of Nijmegen,
critically examined the vocabulary and terminology of the Holy Brothers.
They concluded that a significant portion of the terminology was of
Furthermore, professor J.M. Vesely of
the Pontifical Angelicum University in Rome concluded: "Cyril was not
the creator (creatore), but rather only the coordinator (coordiatore)
of things that already existed."
That which professor Ivan Dujcev stated
for the Bulgars and Macedonians also applies to the Croats. Professor
Stjepan Ivsic often stressed during his lectures that church terminology
such as for instance kriz (cross), kalez (chalice), korizma
(Lent), etc. were of Friulian origin. Professor Petar Skok went even
farther. On the basis of an analysis of the names of persons and places,
and other words, he came to the conclusion that missionaries from Aquileia
came to Croatian lands in the 8th and 9th centuries.
The above mentioned monk Hrabr also stated
in his treatise that the Slavs, prior to their baptism, wrote in the
Greek and Roman scripts, but without "a system of writing."
Proof that the Slavs already had an alphabet
before the Holy Brothers is found in the Life of Constantine,
where it is stated that he found a script in the Kherson region. The
expression "rousokymi pismeny" found in the Life of Constantine
has been interpreted by different authors in different ways. F. Liewehr
felt that one should instead read Syriac ("sourskymi pismeny")
because at that time the Syriac language was already a major language.
Emil Georgiev held that the Slavic alphabet existed before St. Cyril.
This was the Cyrillic alphabet that was derived from the Greek uncial
script and that Cyril only later invented the Glagolitic script. Georgiev's
views have generally not been accepted. This was primarily due to the
fact that the awkward Glagolitic script would have had to replace the
much more practical Cyrillic, which was in fact the attractive Greek
The newest discoveries reveal that a
Slavic alphabet did indeed exist before the Holy Brothers. The existence
of the so- called Iznebek Boards or the Vles Book, named
after the god Veles or Jasna, were documents of this script.19
Was this alphabet known to monk Hrabr?
Were these the "strokes and notches" that he spoke of? We do know that
his assertion that the Slavs "do not have books" does not hold. They
may not have had parchment or paper, but they did use material that
was close at hand. This material was wood. As we are informed by a report
of Archbishop of Zadar, Matej Karaman (1700-1771), our novice Glagolites
used the bark of wood or stone tablets in the same manner.20
In this way, even the newest investigations
reveal the truth of the oldest theory. This is, that according to its
origin, the Glagolitic script was a Croatian script. It sprouted on
Croatian soil and through more than a thousand years remained a Croatian
script in public use, church use and in private life. Not even a hundred
years ago the Glagolitic script was used: in parish registries of churches;
by Croatian Franciscan Tertiaries for their monastery registries, homilies
and meditations; while public "notaries" employed it for trade agreements
and wills throughout the townships. Today, due to practical considerations,
the Glagolitic script has disappeared from public and private use.
III. The Croatian Glagolitic Liturgy
It was precisely the first session of
the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council that reminded many, who did not
know this before, about the Croatian Glagolitic liturgy. The Croats
were the only nation in the Western Church, who for more than a millennium,
had their liturgy in their old language.
From where did they receive this privilege?
Here again the same theories as those on the origin of the alphabet
were more or less repeated. Neither the Roman nor Greek alphabet, which
had barely twenty-two signs, could fulfil the phonetic requirements
of Old Church Slavic, which had a much larger number of sounds.
With the appearance of the Cyrillo-Methodian
theory on the origin of the alphabet, there also came the theory of
the origin of the Slavic liturgy. This theory was very simple. In 863
the Holy Brothers, Cyril and Methodius, were sent to Morava or Moravia
by Emperor Michael III on the invitation of Moravian Duke Rastislav.
Here they began to work among the Slavs, where they introduced the Slavic
liturgy and founded their own hierarchy. After the death of St. Methodius
(885), and following the death of Duke Rastislav and his successor Svatopluk,
the German bishops expelled Methodius' followers, as they claimed the
church jurisdiction for themselves. These exiled followers went to other
Slavic territories where they introduced the Slavic liturgy.
What liturgy did the Holy Brothers introduce?
Today this is difficult to say. If we go by that which was stated in
the Life of Constantine, it would seem that it was the Byzantine
liturgy. In the biography it is stated that Cyril began the translation
of the Holy Scriptures with the Gospel according to St. John: "Iskoni
be slovo i slovo be u Boga"/"In principio erat Verbum et Verbum
erat apud Deum." This Gospel is read in the Byzantine liturgy on
Easter, which in the Byzantine rite begins the yearly liturgical cycle,
and not with Advent, as in the Roman liturgy. The majority of Slavists
of the Byzantine rite hold that the Slavic Apostles introduced the Byzantine
rite, as they themselves were of that rite.
With regard to the Lives of the Holy
Brothers, it is important to mention that they were preserved in
transcriptions made several centuries after the death of the Holy Brothers.
They were primarily recopied on territories of the Eastern Church. A
critical examination of the texts reveals that some things were added
and explained according to the understanding of the transcribers.21
If we accept the falsified letter of
Pope Hadrian II (867-872) and the letter of Pope John VIII (872-882),
then it could only have been the Roman liturgy, as it is expressly discussed
in these letters. Indeed, it is very difficult to believe that the Byzantine
rite would be allowed to be introduced so easily on an entire territory
at the time of Photios' schism (born ca. 810, died ca. 893). To do so
at that time would have meant to place this territory under the jurisdiction
of the Patriarch of Constantinople.
Josef Vasica introduced a new possibility,
namely, that the liturgy established by the Holy Brothers was the so-called
Liturgy of St. Peter.22 On the basis of
philological investigations of the Kiev Fragments23
and the oldest preserved Croatian Glagolitic missal,24
Vasica noticed that many expressions had similar or the same meanings
as the Greek text of the Liturgy of St. Peter. From this he concluded
that the first liturgy introduced by the Holy Brothers, was in fact,
the Liturgy of St. Peter.25
The Liturgy of St. Peter originated in
Macedonia, which from the 8th to 9th century was situated on the border
between the Western and Eastern Roman Empire. The Macedonian administrative-
political organization belonged to the Eastern Empire and, as a result,
its Church also belonged to the Patriarch of Constantinople and the
Byzantine rite (at least during the period in question). However, as
usually occurs in border regions, there was also a mixture of peoples,
languages, cultures and religions. Just as the Western rite sporadically
reached right up to Constantinople, so too on the other hand, the Byzantine
rite, here and there, reached deep into Pannonia. In such a land, where
both rites had a major influence, a new liturgy, called the Liturgy
of St. Peter, was formed. The supporters of this liturgy claimed that
it originated with St. Peter, who it is alleged, initially introduced
it in Rome and therefore would have to be in fact the first Roman liturgy.
In its first part (text of rites), this liturgy had all the eucharistic
features of the Byzantine liturgy, while the second part (eucharistic
rite), was more formally rather than textually, similar to the Roman
The introduction of this type of liturgy
truly could have been very favourable for the Holy Brothers, at least
temporarily, on the territory that already belonged to the Roman rite.
However, it is completely certain that it could not have remained long
on that territory, as is revealed by the attacks on the Slavic rite
by the Latin speaking German bishops.
Be that as it may, here we are concerned
with the rite that was introduced in Croatia. For this reason, we must
raise the question whether the followers of the Slavic Apostles did,
in fact, introduce the Slavic liturgy in Croatia? Did it already exist
before, as was generally held by Croatian clergy? Adherents of the Cyrillo-Methodian
theory do not have primary sources to back their theory, but only hypotheses
and legendary statements in the Chronicle of the Priest of Dioclea.
However, historical facts and liturgical texts speak against this view.
As a people, the Croats were the first
among all the Slavs to accept Christianity. This occurred during the
7th century, insofar as they were not already previously baptized, at
least in part. The belonging to a permanent rite and hierarchy is also
tied to the acceptance of Christianity. Since the Croats resided on
the territory of the Western patriarchate, it is completely logical
that they must have belonged to the Western rite and that they fell
under the jurisdiction of the Western hierarchy. This however, does
not exclude the activities of Greek missionaries, especially in the
southern regions, and the partial belonging to the Eastern rite in those
regions. One must therefore ask, would it have been possible for the
Western hierarchy to stand by calmly, after two to three centuries of
use of the Latin language, and possibly the Roman rite, and allow the
introduction of something new and Byzantine? If we take into account
that we are speaking about an era that was highlighted by the Photian
Schism, at a time of political tensions between Rome and Byzantium due
to the political realities in Italy and the relations of the Byzantine
emperors toward the reform spirit of the Pope, which was already felt
in Rome and which would later give the greatest momentum to the Benedictine
monastery at Cluny, then the answer can only be one: the introduction
of a new rite or at least a new language was practically impossible.
Therefore, taking the question from the
historical side, the Slavic liturgy could have originated in Croatia
much earlier than the activities of the Apostles to the Slavs, and that
being at the time of their baptism, that is, at the turn of the 7th
to the 8th century. The missionary monks from Gaul (today's France)
were active on Croatian territory of that time. They brought with themselves,
as we shall see, their own peculiar Gallic rite. The territory of their
missionary endeavours fell under the Aquileian patriarchate, the archbishoprics
of Zadar and Split, and their suffragan bishoprics. Some cities and
the majority of islands of Dalmatia formed the so-called Byzantine Theme
in which the Byzantine rite was used. We find ourselves, therefore,
in a situation similar to that of Macedonia, in a mixture of rites,
but this time with the penetration of the Byzantine rite into Roman
Church territory. It is precisely under these circumstances that we
must look for the origin of the Slavic liturgy in Croatia. This viewpoint
was already long ago expressed by the bishop of Krk, Anton Mahnic, in
an official report to the Roman Curia. This report was written when
the question of the Glagolitic liturgy was quite actual.
Mahnic wrote this in his official report
(in Italian) to the Holy See:
...I find it necessary to add this to
the opinions of those who think that the Old Church Slavic language
was introduced in place of Latin... From the historical standpoint,
this view has no credibility whatsoever. The Croats were baptized in
the period from the 7th to the 9th century, at a time, therefore, when
the Latin language still was not officially declared the liturgical
language of the Western Church. ...Besides that, we must mention that
when the Croats arrived from the northeast, they settled, be it by force,
be it with consent of the Emperor, provinces that previously belonged
to the Eastern Greek Empire, where the Greek language and other national
languages were used, even in the liturgy. It is absolutely certain that
the Greek missionaries who came from Constantinople to preach Christianity
to the Croats, did not introduce the Latin language; just as missionaries
who came from Rome to Eastern provinces, did not dare introduce the
Latin language. ...Indeed, in the Dalmatian cities consisting of a Latin
speaking population, such as Split, Rab, Osor, etc., the Greek language
was used there, at least partially, right to the 12th century, as was
asserted by [Mariano] Armellini (Prelezioni di Archeologia cristiana,
p. 140). This also applied to churches, which belonged to the Aquileian
patriarchate, especially those in Istria. As a result, we could conclude
without further investigation (even if not proven), that the Old Church
Slavic language replaced the Greek, but not the Latin language.26
In Germany, a fragment of a Croatian
Glagolitic missal in transcription from the 15th century was discovered.
The fragment contained three different masses: Palm Sunday, and Easter
Monday and Tuesday. As the masses do not belong to the Roman, or to
any other known liturgy, we were asked for our personal judgement. After
the required study, we ascertained that the masses belonged to the Gallic
Liturgy of St. Martin of Tours which are found only in that liturgy.
Here we should mention two things. First, St. Martin was born in the
Pannonian city of Sabaria ca. 315 and worked as a missionary and bishop
in Gaul, in the city of Tours, where he founded his own monastery and
monastic order. He died while travelling in 397 and was buried in Tours.
Secondly, the Gallic monks were active missionaries in Pannonia and
Croatia from the 7th to 9th century. Insofar as the Liturgy of St. Martin
reached Croatia, it only could have done so via the monks from the region
of Tours, and that at a time when it was still in use there. This was,
at the latest, from the turn of the 7th to the 8th century, as during
this time his very own bishopric disappeared from Tours.
In the 1960s, we entered on the trail
of a new and previously unknown missal or at least part of a missal.
This was actually a palimpsest. Following an examination of the two
pages that we received, we can conclude that the missal, or at least
the original source from which it was copied, could be a century older
than the Vatican Borgiano Illirico 4, today known as the oldest
Glagolitic missal. Judging from the gradual of the third Christmas mass,
which we have before us, even this missal was a Gallic missal. Contemporary
discoveries of new texts and the investigation of older and newer ones,
will certainly bring us to results that no one in the recent past thought
While writing a survey of a Glagolitic
breviary from 1465, we noticed through a comparison of the biblical
text with the Vulgate and the Greek text, that in some places the text
differed in content from the Vulgate and the Greek text.27
One such difference was also found in Ulfilas' Gothic Scriptures. At
first we believed that the Croatian Glagolitic text really was based
on the Gothic original, as was held by many others before. We then decided
to investigate more fully Croatian Glagolitic texts. After many years
of study, we compared the Croatian Glagolitic Gospels with the Cyrillo-Methodian
translation, the Vulgate, the Itala Vetus or Vetus Latina (an older
pre-Jerome translation) and old Greek texts. To date we have found more
than six thousand larger and smaller differences.28
We can say that a great portion of the differences can be found in the
Vetus Latina and these mostly in texts that were written on the territory
of Reims- Tours. It is obvious that these differences, which are found
only in the Vetus Latina, could not have entered Croatian texts from
Greek texts, but only from old Latin translations (texts). This again
confirms that Croatian Glagolitic biblical texts were translated before
St. Cyril's translation. Since the Vetus Latina was used in Gaul, right
up to the time of Charlemagne, we must conclude that the translation
of biblical texts was associated with the activities of the Gallic missionaries
and this was at the latest at the turn of the 8th to the 9th century.
* * *
Based on the preceding, this conclusion
follows: just as there existed two Slavic alphabets, Cyrillic and Glagolitic,
there also existed two Slavic liturgies. The younger one was linked
to the missionary endeavours of the Holy Brothers. The origin of the
Cyrillic alphabet is tied directly or indirectly to this liturgy. With
time, this liturgy spread over the entire territory of Methodius' expansive
metropolitan. It encompassed the eastern Croatian regions of Srijem
and Slavonija, a portion of Civil Croatia, a part of Bosnia, and then
across Serbia, finishing south, in Bulgaria and Macedonia. In the East
it stretched all the way to Little Poland and Rus' lands (today's Ukraine).
With the death of Methodius, this large metropolitan disintegrated.
This was primarily due to political causes, precisely in the manner
in which the entire work of the Holy Brothers began: due to political
and national concerns. With the disappearance of the metropolitan, the
whole Slavic liturgy on that territory disappeared gradually and was
only preserved in the south in Serbia, Bulgaria and Macedonia, and that
in the Byzantine rite, as these regions were directly under Byzantine
influence and the church jurisdiction of Constantinople.
The second Slavic liturgy, which was
older by at least one century, developed on the territory that encompassed
the following western Croatian regions: Istria, the littoral region,
the major parts of Civil Croatia all the way to Samobor (near Zagreb),
a section of western Bosnia, Herzegovina, Dalmatia, and more or less
today's Montenegro. With few exceptions, these are in fact all those
regions that preserved the Slavic liturgy to this very day. Associated
to this liturgy is the origin of the Glagolitic alphabet. This liturgy
developed naturally and became so closely tied to the people, that all
misfortunes, especially those of a political nature, that accompanied
it through more than a thousand years, and there were not a few of them,
were never able to destroy it.
Although the two liturgies went their
own ways, nevertheless, we cannot think that they did not have common
features. The Apostles to the Slavs were quite certainly acquainted
with the Glagolitic script. Besides that, as we have already indicated,
St. Methodius' metropolitan covered eastern Croatian regions. Therefore,
conditions existed for lasting influences from both sides. If we just
take these conditions into account, we will understand how the Glagolitic
alphabet, at least for a brief period, could have penetrated all the
way to Macedonia. We will also understand how, on the other side, Byzantine-Greek
elements could have penetrated into the Western Slavic liturgy, along
with the already mentioned Byzantine influence in the Greek Theme of
Of course, the Croatian Glagolitic liturgy
did not remain as something petrified throughout the centuries. It had
its mission both in the past and in the present.
In 1347, Czech King Charles IV founded
a monastery for Croatian Benedictines near Prague, known by the name
Emmaus. This monastery was a focal point of Slavic liturgy and later,
the center for a movement to unite the divided Slavs with the Catholic
Church. From here the Glagolites later spread to Poland.
In his many reports to the Congregation
for the Propagation of the Faith, the well known Croatian missionary
to Russia and later Archbishop of Zadar, Matej Karaman (1700-1771),
pushed for the founding of at least one monastery for Croatian Benedictine
Glagolites and monastic Glagolitic Tertiaries in Russia. These Glagolites
were to be of spiritual help to the local Catholics of the Western rite
and would at the same time serve as proof to the Orthodox faithful,
that the Catholic Church accepts and preserves all rites and all languages
that were already established in the Church.
In recent times some Slavic states have
received permission, through special agreements with the Holy See, to
introduce either fully or partially, the Slavic liturgy on their territories.
Thus, in 1886 it arrived to the Principality of Montenegro, followed
by the Kingdom of Serbia in 1914, and the Republic of Czechoslovakia
in 1920, but only for feast days of the main patron saints. The 1935
concordat with the Kingdom of Yugoslavia anticipated the introduction
of the Slavic liturgy for all Croatian regions and throughout the entire
state, but the whole matter was thwarted due to the political stance
of the Serbian clergy.
Today the Glagolitic liturgy is found
in seven dioceses and on the entire territory of the Province of the
Tertiaries of St. Francis.
IV. The Language of Liturgical Books
We would also like to address the language
of liturgical books. The language of liturgical books is ordinarily
called the Old Church Slavic language. Very often among the Croats we
hear the expression "Old Croatian language," "mother of the Croatian
language," and so on. It would truly be about time that this question
also be thoroughly investigated.
We Croats do not have written monuments
older than the 11th century. According to the opinion of experts, the
Tablet of Baska, the Grskovic Acts of the Apostles and
the Vienna Fragments, all belong to that century. If we compare
these monuments with other liturgical monuments of that time, which
were written in Pannonia or Macedonia, the differences in grammar and
lexica would be very small. The only major differences would be found
in the phonetic development where the nasals disappeared, the semi-vowels
were substituted with full phonemes, while the pre- Slavic group "tj",
"dj" and "sk" were replaced with "c", "j"
and "sc". This phonetic development will advance somewhat right
up to the 14th and 15th century, while the grammar and lexica will hardly
experience any changes.
In contrast, if we compare the language
of secular monuments, as for instance the Statute of Vinodol
(1288), we would already find major differences in the language of these
monuments and liturgical monuments. From this we can freely conclude
the following: a) the languages of the Slavic peoples, at least up until
the 10th century, differed little amongst themselves; and b) the same
thing happened to the language of liturgical books as occurred to the
Arabic, Greek and Latin languages.
Today's Arabic literary language is the
language of the Koran and not the spoken or common language. The common
language of one region, or if you like, of one Arabic nation, is quite
often so different that the Arabs of another region are barely able
to understand it. That which today unifies Arabs is the language of
the Koran and not the common language.
The same occurred with the Greek literary
language, which is in fact, the language of the Byzantine court, and
therefore differs also from the old classical language that is taught
in our classical high schools, and which is still more different from
the common language used in everyday life.
Even the Latin language used in the church
differs considerably from the old classical language of the Roman writers.
This language was introduced into the church by Pope Gregory I (590-604)
to replace the common Latin language of the 6th century. As the Pope
stated, this common Latin was so corrupt, that it was neither suitable,
nor worthy of liturgical use. From the common Latin language of that
time, there later developed the various Italian languages.
The same phenomenon occurred with the
language of Slavic liturgical books. In the beginning it was indeed
a common language. Later, it stabilized and became a "hieratic" (holy)
language of church books. Some writers, such as Wenzel (Vaclav) Vondrak
and August Leskien, and Josip Hamm among the Croats, called it-and we
accept it as completely accurate-the "Old Church Slavic" language.
The language of church books printed
on the territory of the Senj bishopric in the 16th and 17th centuries,
were no longer Old Church Slavic, nor Croatian, even if some called
the language of the missals Croatian, as for instance Simun Kozicic's
Croatian Missal (Hrvacki misal) from 1531. This language
was a mixture, that would more fittingly be called Slavo-Croatian
(slavo-hervatski), based on a similar name used by our neighbors,
who designated their language of the 18th century Slavo-Serbian
From all that we have stated thus far,
the language of Croatian church books could only be called the mother
of the Croatian language in a broader sense. It would be more appropriate
to call it the older sister of the Croatian language.
V. The Croatian Glagolitic Bibliography
To date, detailed books have been written
on everything that the Glagolites have left us in writing throughout
the centuries. For this reason, it is obvious that this overview cannot
focus on particulars, but will rather highlight some of the more important
Even if "bibliography" in the strict
sense of the word deals with books or manuscripts on parchment, here
we cannot skip the three oldest Glagolitic monuments written on stone.
These are: the Valun and Plomin inscriptions (11th century)
from Istria, and the so-called Tablet of Baska, which was recently
determined by J. Hamm to have consisted of three inscriptions. The first
and second parts were written in 1077, while the third part was written
in 1089. This tablet was written in St. Lucy Abbey near Baska on the
Island of Krk and contains the donation of the Croatian King Zvonimir.30
All three monuments are important from the paleographic and philologic
viewpoints, as they clearly reveal the development of the Glagolitic
alphabet and the Croatian language. They are also important from the
national and political viewpoints, as they show how far the Croatian
language and Croatian national territory spread from the oldest times.
Besides this, the Baska Tablet provides us with the name of the
great Croatian King Zvonimir in its national form, while the names of
the remaining dukes and kings from that era are known mainly from Latin
documents, as the Latin language was the official language of cultured
Europe at that time.
Since we are already discussing written
monuments on stone, we should also mention one more. That is the 1541
baptismal font with the Glagolitic inscription in Sterna, which is today
found in Slovenia. The inscription itself, as the names of the population,
reveals that Croatian national territory of the 16th century was spread
deep into today's Slovenia. The situation is also well known to us from
other historical sources.
With regard to other monuments of Glagolitic
literacy, as we have already mentioned, their number is quite large,
beginning from the oldest times up until today and they encompassed
all areas of public life. As the Glagolitic script originated precisely
due to church-liturgical requirements, the largest number of monuments
are related to liturgical and church needs. This includes items such
as: missals, breviaries, psalters, lectionaries, rituals, miscellanies,
sacerdotal hand-books, homilies, etc.
Let us mention a few of the most important
monuments. The oldest preserved missal is the Borgiano-illirico 4,
found in the Vatican Library. The missal was written around the mid-14th
century in a large format, in two columns. The script is very beautiful
and it is decorated with picturesque initial letters in the Croatian
interlace motif. The missal is especially important today because it
contains traces of the oldest Slavic liturgy and still more importantly
due to its biblical texts, which we have already discussed.
V. Jagic dated this missal at ca. 1350,
while Vajs placed it at the beginning of the 14th century, that is,
between 1317 and 1323. On the basis of liturgical facts we have shown
that Jagic's opinion is more correct.31
When discussing antiquities, we should
also mention that the Oxford Bodleian Library houses another missal
(Cod. sign. M.S. Canon Liturg. 172), which carries the year 1310
on its last page. However, according to Vajs' opinion this is very suspicious,
since the script does not correspond to such an old date. On the basis
of its liturgical contents, it appears that Vajs' opinion is correct.
Along with these oldest fully complete
missals are a number of fragments that are still older than the mentioned
missals. These are the already discussed Kiev Fragments from
the 11th to 12th century, which were written in part on Croatian soil,
the Premuda Baska Fragments from the 12th century, and the Kukuljevic
Missal Fragment and the Bribinje Missal from the 13th century.
The Missal of Duke Novak of 1368
is today held in the Vienna National Library (Cod. slav. 8). Duke Novak
wrote the missal in his own hand for the salvation of his soul. The
book is decorated with numerous illuminated initials in gold and in
color. It also contains many miniatures and two large full page illustrations.
The Roc Missal, from the same
century, originated in Roc, Istria. The script is very beautiful and
is decorated with many initials and several miniatures. It includes
a complete missal and a portion of a ritual-book, containing the rite
of trimming a child's hair, marriage and various benedictions. This
type of contents is found, more or less, in all Glagolitic missals and
from the ritual side of things, it is evident that they were all contingent
upon the same original.
The University Library in Ljubljana (Sign.
c. 162 a/2) houses a missal that Dragutin Antun Parcic and Ivan Bercic
placed in the 14th century. We mention it because of its importance
to art history (due to its pictures) and its paleography, since it contains
rounded forms of some letters. It was written by "the priest Juri of
Beram" ("pop Juri namestnik u Berme").
The Vrbnik parish office stores the missal
known as the Second Vrbnik Missal. Its letters are of the beautiful
angular type. From the beginning to folio fifty-four it contains Glagolitic
initials, while the remaining folios (up to 286) contain Latin initials.
This phenomenon occurred very often in other Glagolitic missals and
breviaries. It is obvious that the copyists used Latin originals. It
is precisely this missal that provides us with a remarkable example.
While other transcribers made an effort to give individual Glagolitic
texts the corresponding initial letter, this copier simply substituted
Latin initials without any regard to the Glagolitic texts. For instance,
in the third Christmas Mass, which in the Glagolitic missal begins with
the words "Otroce rodi se nam," we would expect that the Glagolitic
missal would contain the initial "O". Instead, the transcriber
merely copied the Latin initial "P" corresponding to the Latin
missal which begins with "Peur natus est nobis."
One more missal from the 15th century
should also be singled out, the so-called Missal of Duke Hrvoje of
Split. This missal was written by the writer Butko. The Turks took
this missal from Buda to Istanbul as war booty. From Istanbul the missal
was sent to be examined at the Vienna University, where Jagic worked.
On its return to Istanbul the missal was lost. It was recently located
in the Topkapy Saray Library in Istanbul. The missal was decorated with
beautiful initials and pictures. The pictures are allegorical (at the
beginning of months), symbolic (the four Evangelists) and historical
(various saints). According to the views of experts, the artist belonged
to the Tuscan school.
Of the many breviaries, we will mention
only the two-part breviary that is kept in the Vatican Library: the
Borgiano- illirco 5-6 from 1364 and 1387. The breviary is decorated
with striking picturesque initials in the Croatian interlace style.
It is especially important for the study of Croatian sanctorale. Along
with the Book of Psalms and remaining prescribed sections of the breviary,
there is also found the ritual part. The liturgy of the Holy Brothers
is located at the end of the codex. Since this liturgy is not found
in the so-called main text, but at the end of the book, it is clear
that it was added later. Another important aspect of the codex is that
it contains its own liturgy of St. Francis and his life, which was written
by St. Bonaventure, the so- called Legenda Maior. Therefore,
it is clearly a Franciscan breviary. We must also mention that the majority
of Glagolitic missals and breviaries had the Franciscan's special devotion
to the saints, be this due to the fact that they were originally Franciscan
missals and breviaries, or be it due to the fact that they were copied
from them. This is quite clear in itself. The majority of village Glagolites
were not capable of translating liturgical texts directly from Latin.
This is why for their purposes they copied from texts that had already
been translated, which for the most part originated in monasteries.
When the printing press appeared in Europe,
the first Glagolitic print shop opened in Croatia very early. This was
in 1482 at Kosinj, Lika. This printing house was founded by Duke Anz
VIII Frankopan of Brinje. He most probably had the letters cut in Venice
and used as his source the missal of his wife's great- grandfather,
Duke Novak of Krbava. As we have already stated, Duke Novak wrote the
missal in his own hand in 1368. This was the first printing press on
South and East Slavic soil (the first Russian book was only printed
in 1611). This first Croatian printing press also made available the
first printed Glagolitic missal in 1483, whose original source was again
the mentioned Missal of Duke Novak.32
This printing shop most likely printed
the oldest breviary from which only one copy has been preserved in Venice,
in the library of S. Marco. After the battle of the Plain of Krbava
(1493) the region was layed waste to by the Turks and the printing shop,
it appears, was relocated to the coast. After this move, the next succession
of printed missals and breviaries began, of which only some are mentioned
In 1494 the second edition of a missal
was published in Senj "by Master Blaz Baromic, Master Salvestar Bedricic
and Deacon Gaspar Turcic, with the approbation and by the Grace of our
Lord God" ("s dopuscen'nem i volju G(ospodi)na B(og)a
od' domina Blaza Baromica i domina Salvestra Bedricica i zakna Gaspara
Turc'ca"). Canon Baromic was also the corrector of a Glagolitic
breviary from 1493, while Silvestar Bedricic, the Archdeacon of Senj,
wrote the book Manual for Spiritual Guidance (Narucnik plebanusev)
In 1528 there appeared in Venice a new
Glagolitic missal, issued "by friar Paval of Modrus, of the seraphic
Order of Conventuals of St. Francis" ("po fratru Pavlu Modrusaninu
ot' reda serafika svetago Franciska konventovali"). The printers
were Francesco Bidoni and Mafeo Pasyni.
In Rijeka the "...Croatian Missal...
corrected by... Father Simun Kozicic, Bishop of Zadar, and printed at
his residence in Rijeka" ("...Misal hrvack'... popravlen'...otcem'
gospodinom" Simunom' Kozicic', Zadraninom', biskupom' Modruskim' stampan'v
Rici v hizah' ego prebivane...") appeared in 1531.
The last liturgical book printed before
the Council of Trent was the so-called Brozic Codex, which contained
a breviary, missal and ritual. The codex was printed in Venice by the
sons of G. Francesco Turesani. The Glagolitic colophon stated: "The
completion of this Croatian breviary printed in Venice...and reprinted
anew by the parish priest Nikola Brozic in Omisalj in the month of March
1531" ("Svrsenie privieli hirvackih' stampani va Bnecih'...znova
ucineni po pre Mikuli Brozici plovani omiselskom' miseca marca 1531").
The year 1631 marked the beginning of
a new period for Croatian Glagolitic books. After the Tridentine Council,
the printing of Glagolitic liturgical books was taken over by the Congregation
for the Propagation of the Faith. The first Croatian Glagolitic missal
printed by the Propagation was in 1631, while the first Glagolitic breviary
appeared in 1648. Both books were published by the Franciscan Father
Rafael Levakovic, who later became Archbishop of Ohrid in Macedonia.
The sign indicating that it was the Propogation's publication is that
its language fell under the influence of Ukrainian liturgical books.
The reason for this change was the Propogation's consultants and censors
who were all Ukrainian and who considered the language of their liturgical
books more correct and refined. The breviary from 1688 could be added
to these first two editions, and its language was still further Russified.
A new edition of Levakovic's missal appeared in 1706 without any changes.
In Matija Karaman's (later Archbishop of Zadar) edition of 1741, a completely
new missal was printed which was completely Russified. With this missal
and the 1791 printing of a Glagolitic breviary under the editorship
of Gocinic, the period of Russified Croatian Glagolitic liturgical books
came to an end.33
On the order of Pope Leo XIII, the Canon
of St. Jerome's in Rome, Antun Dragutin Parcic, prepared the Acts
and Guides to the Mass (Cin' i Pravilo Misi) in 1881 and
the complete missal in 1893. In his modifications Parcic used the oldest
Croatian Glagolitic books and thereby returned to the oldest language
forms. In 1905 a second edition of this missal was published, while
in 1927 Josef Vajs published the same missal in the Roman script. In
his editon Vajs introduced many Czechisms and used an incorrect and
foreign method of transcription. In that way Vajs spoiled Parcic's edition.
Along with church and liturgical monuments,
a large number of monuments with secular content also existed. These
included historical and juridical monuments (both civil and ecclesiastic),
verse, lexicons and grammars, public-legal agreements, and so on. It
is noteworthy to mention the Statute of Vinodol from 1288, which
was followed by many other statutes and rules (regula) that regulated
public or ecclesiastic life. Today these documents serve as historical
sources of juridicial life among the Croats from eras long ago. Since
there are a large number of these types of monuments, and our space
is limited, we cannot discuss them individually.
Croatian poets, called Initiators
(Zacinjaoci),34 also added their
secular poetry to existing church verse. Even in the epic Judita
(Judith) of the father of modern Croatian literature, Marko Marulic
of Split, which commenced the period of modern Croatian literature,
we can find sources, directly or indirectly, in Glagolitic texts.35
In this way Croats, who already from
the oldest times quite happily departed for various foreign universities
(especially in Italy and Paris) and enriched themselves in Western culture,
did not abandon their very own culture, which sprang and blossomed on
their soil. According to evidence from many monuments, their endeavours
could not be stopped either by centuries-long wars against the Turks,
as they remained the bulwark of Europe, or by their more numerous and
stronger neighbors who very often attempted to politically and culturally
In closing we can ask: what is the final
conclusion of the more recent investigations of the Glagolitic question?
Do we Croats owe the Holy Brothers, and if we do, what do we owe them?
To the first question we can reply in
short that with regard to the Glagolitic alphabet, today we can say
with complete certainty that it is the Croatian national alphabet and
that it originated through a natural process on Croatian territory.
Paleography (the science of the origin of alphabets) shows that the
Glagolitic alphabet is of Western origin, that is, precisely one of
the Roman scripts, and not Greek, and still less Eastern. Historical
monuments testify that the Glagolitic script was known to Latin authors
at least in the 8th century, that is, before the missionary activities
of the Holy Brothers. Liturgical monuments reveal that their source
was Latin liturgical monuments of the 7th and 8th centuries. There can
be only one logical conclusion: the Glagolitic alphabet is older than
St. Cyril, and therefore, he could not have "invented" it (just as,
after all, not a single alphabet was invented, but rather originated
through a natural development). Since this alphabet is Slavic, and since
liturgical monuments were written in an alphabet of Latin origin, it
could only have originated on the territory of Slavic Christians of
the Western rite, and these could only have been the Croats. Therefore,
there is again only one conclusion: the Glagolitic alphabet originated
among the Croats, and therefore it is accordingly, a true Croatian alphabet.
Inasmuch as we wish to accept literally
his legendary life, St. Cyril could only have invented the Cyrillic
alphabet, which, in reality, is nothing other than the Greek uncial
script of the 9th century. It was only necessary to combine and adjust
some letters to Old Church Slavic sounds and the Cyrillic alphabet was
With respect to the Glagolitic liturgy,
things are much simpler. The Croats were baptized (or as some wish,
converted into the Catholic Church, since they were allegedly already
Arians) in the 7th century. They most certainly belonged to the Western
rite, as they lived on the territory of the Western patriarchate. From
the beginning this rite must have been either in the Latin or Slavic
language. Had it been in Latin, no one in the 9th or 10th century could
have changed it as that was the period of the Photian Schism, the conflict
between the Eastern and Western churches, and the era of Western church
reforms. To have introduced at that time something that belonged to
the Eastern church, would have meant to acknowledge the East. This could
never have been accepted by Rome or the Croats. In addition, who could
have introduced the vernacular language? The exiled disciples of the
Holy Brothers, as is normally believed? Insofar as the followers of
the Apostles to the Slavs were Moravian, they remained in their homeland.
Insofar as they truly were expelled, these could have only been the
Macedonians and under the best of circumstances they could have numbered
several dozen. That these few dozen followers spread the Slavic liturgy,
under the conditions we have previously described, is difficult to conceive.
Therefore, even from this angle only one conclusion remains: the Slavic
liturgy originated in Croatia and therefore was to remained only in
When the Holy Brothers decided on the
difficult mission in Moravia, they needed to decide in advance on the
rite, language and script they would use. As Byzantines, their most
natural choice was the Byzantine rite and as a result, the national
language of the region to which they were going, as no one would be
able to understand Greek anyway. And the script? As important high-ranking
state officials, the Holy Brothers must have been familiar with Croatian
territories, at least those that formed the Byzantine Theme of Dalmatia
(the Islands, some cities, and a portion of the western Istrian coast),
as the Emperor's court kept itself informed, as is seen in the document
De administrando imperio of Emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus.
For a person of that era, Porphyrogenitus had a fairly good grasp of
Croatian history: he knew of the names of Croatian regions, rivers and
islands. He even preserved some old Croatian names of islands that were
later lost through Roman and Italian influences. As a result, the Holy
Brothers must have known the condition of the Croatian Church, liturgy
and script. It is not even excluded that they may have already been
introduced to the Glagolitic script in Salonika, where there were many
Slavs and where they also learned the Slavic language. Presupposing
that these Slavs had some kind of a permanent culture while living in
a cultural milieu, the Glagolitic alphabet could have quite easily penetrated
Macedonia directly or indirectly, as Macedonia, like the Dalmatian Theme,
was under Byzantium.
For this reason, the decision to use
the Glagolitic alphabet imposed itself. If we also take into account
the continuous attacks of the Latin priests on the Byzantine rite, St.
Cyril must have very quickly decided on the Western rite. Where would
he find the source for his liturgical books? Again in Croatia. This
is shown by the previously mentioned Kiev Fragments. The Kiev
Fragments were written in the Glagolitic alphabet and the liturgical
contents are masses of the Western rite, translated from an original
that was used, more or less, on the territory of the Aquileian patriarchate.
It is manifestly evident, therefore, that the first original translation
could only have arisen in Croatia. This is best seen in the Kiev
Fragments, which are in fact only copies from another source. The
Czech W. Vondrak stated that the homeland of the Kiev Fragments
was the same as that of the so-called Freising Fragments and
that was approximately Istria-Koruska (Carinthia). St. M. Kuljbakin
who, to be sure, did not decide on the area in which these leaflets
were written, nevertheless stood firmly against the view that they could
have come from Moravia or some other northern Slavic nation.36
In her study of the Kiev Fragments,
Marija Pantelic accepts the thesis that they were written on Czech-Moravian
territory at the end of the 10th century, except the first page which
was written later. She concludes that: "Based on the contents, language
and script of the Kiev Fragments, they represent the oldest Glagolitic
monuments of Slavic literacy and culture." However, "the younger copies
of the Kiev Fragments and the Sinai Liturgy from the 11th
or beginning of the 12th century testify to the use of Kiev Fragments
and the Sinai Liturgy in a border region, a mixed territory of
that time, as was the case in Dubrovnik and the Peljesac peninsula with
its hinterland."37 Consequently, the fragments
should have been written on Czech territory and were used on Croatian
As a result, in their missionary work
among the Pannonian Slavs, the Holy Brothers employed our national alphabet
and our national liturgy. This, in fact, was not the first time that
our national script and our national liturgy spread toward the north.
It would repeat itself a second time, as we have already seen, during
the reign of the Czech King Charles IV and a third time after the First
We therefore, have reasons to be proud
of our antiquities and we have sufficient reason to be thankful to the
Holy Brothers, who for the first time revealed to the Slavs and to other
peoples, what we had and what we were.
Today, when not only Slavic nations,
but also non-Slavic nations celebrate the works of the Slavic Apostles,
we Croats must not fall short and forget to give them full honor and
Translated from Croatian by Stan Granic
* An earlier
version of this article appeared under the title "Hrvatska glagoljica.
Povodom 1100. godisnjice djelovanja svete brase Cirila i Metoda (863.-1963.),"
Hrvatska revija, 13, no. 4 (1963), 469-491. It was later revised
under the title "Hrvatska glagoljica" in a collection of the author's
essays under the same title: Hrvatska glagoljica (Zagreb: Hrvatska
uzdanica, 1998), pp. 9-34. This revised version is translated here.
A Spanish translation of the 1963 article appeared under the title "La
glagolitza croata. Con motivo del 1100 aniversario de la actuacion de
los Ss. Cirilo y Metodio (863-1963)," Studia Croatica, 5, nos.
1-2 (1964), 55-75. The translator is grateful to Dr. Vinko Grubisic
of the University of Waterloo for his assistance during the translation
1 S.L. Lazic,
Kratka povjesnica Srba od postanja srpstva do danas (Zagreb,
1894), p. 102.
2 E. Gasic,
Povijest zupe i mjesta Moravic (Dakovo, 1936), p. 176.
3 I. Boba,
Moravia's History Reconsidered: A Reinterpretation of Medieval Sources
(The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1971). Croatian translation: I. Boba,
Novi pogled na povijest Moravije (Split: Crkva u svijetu, 1986).
4 J. Hamm,
Gramatika starocrkvenoslavenskog jezika (Zagreb: Nakladni zavod
Hrvatske, 1947), p. 15.
5 J. Dobrovsky
(1753-1829) wrote many works in the field of Slavic studies. He marks
the birth of scholarly research into Slavic philology, literature and
history. His stand with respect to the Croatian Glagolitic heritage
was quite negative. Cf.: Masarikov slovnik naucny, 2, 307.
6 G. Dobner
(1719-1790) the Czech priest, piarist and historian wrote many historical
works. He taught many things that science only later established. One
of his teachings was that the Glagolitic script pre-dated Cyrillic.
Cf.: Masarikov slovnik, 2, 304.
Hrabanus Maurus was born in 784 in Mainz (Magonza).
He was a very prolific Church author whose
works are collected in Jacques Paul Migne's Patrologia Latina.
Initially Maurus was a deacon, then an abbot in Fulda, and finally an
archbishop in Mainz, where he died in 856. His treatise on the origin
of scripts is found in his work De inventione linguarum ab Hebraea
usque ad Theodiscam, et notis antiques, in Patrologia Latina,
ed. J. P. Migne (Paris, 1844-1855), CXII, 1579-1584.
8 H. Lowe [Loewe],
Ein literarischer Widersacher des Bonifatius. Virgil von Salzburg
und die Kosmographie des Aeticus Ister, Abhandlungen der Geistes-und
Sozialwissenschaftishen Klasse, Jahrgang 1951, no. 11 (Mainz: Akademie
der Wissenschaften und der Literatur, 1952).
9 In 1985 a
symposium on Croatian church and social history was held in Split. At
this symposium, Vatican Library copyist, Dr. Vittorio Peri, was to have
held a lecture on the Jerome theory. Unfortunately, because a congress
was held [in Rome] on the 1100th anniversary of the death of St. Methodius,
he could not attend. Dr. Peri asserts that we are in fact dealing with
a copyist named Jerome, who copied much and over time he has been credited
with the invention of an alphabet. With time this mere mortal became
identified as St. Jerome.
10 A. Theiner,
Monumenta Germaniae Historica (Berolini: Apud Weidmannos, 1927),
VII, 223. For this and other documents dealing with the Slavic liturgy
see: I. Prodan, Borba za glagolicu (Zadar, 1900), Part I: Poviest
glagolice i njeni izvori, supplement B, pp. 1-127.
Jagic was born in Varazdin, Croatia, on 6 July 1838 and died in Vienna
on 5 April 1923. He was a university professor in Odessa, Russia, then
later in Berlin, Germany (from 1874), where he founded his celebrated
Archiv fur slavische Philologie. In 1880 he became a professor
in St. Petersburg, Russia, and finally in Vienna in 1886. He was the
central figure of Slavic studies during the last fifty years of his
life. He published the following old texts: Quattuor Evangeliorum
codex Glagoliticus olim Zographensis nunc Petropolitanus (1879),
Quattuor Evangeliorum versionis palaeoslavenicae codex Marianus
(1883), Psalterium Bononiense (1907), and many others. He has
written many studies on the origin of the Glagolitic script and the
Old Church Slavic language and literature; he has also dealt with the
archeology, history and literature of Croatia and Russia, and other
Slavic languages. Here we are primarily interested in his work on the
Glagolitic script that was written in the Russian language: V. Jagic,
"Glagoliceskoje pismo," Enciklopedija slavjanskoj filologii (St.
Petersburg: Akademii nauk, 1911), III (Grafika u slavjan), 51-262
+ 36 pages of plates.
12 K. Segvic,
Hrvatski jezik u katolickom bogostovlju. Prigodom 1300-godisnjice
pokatolicenja Hrvata (Zagreb: St. Kugli, 1941).
(Gothic, Wulfila) was born ca. 311 in Cappadocia, Asia Minor, and died
ca. 383. At the age of thirty he was consecrated a bishop by Eusebius
of Nicomedia. He served as the Apostle to the Visigoths, even for a
time in the Danube River basin. He translated the New Testament into
the Gothic language. This translation is known under the name Codex
Argenteus and is preserved at the University of Uppsala, Sweden
(Enciclopedia Italiana, XXXIV, 629).
14 C. Grubissich,
In originem et Historiam Alphabeti Sclavonici Glagolitici vulgo Hieronymiani,
Disquistio Antiquitatis Populorum Septemtrinalium Reique Litteratiae
Sclavonicae et Ruinicae Studiosis (Venice, 1766).
15 J. Hamm,
"Postanak glagoljskog pisma u svijetlu paleografije," Nastavni vjesnik,
46 (Zagreb, 1939) 39-61.
16 W. Lettenbauer,
"Zur Entstehung des glagolitischen Alphabets," Slovo, 3 (Zagreb,
1953), 35-50. Other works dealing with this are: K. A. F. Pertz, De
cosmographia Ethici, libri tres (Berlin, 1853); M. Hocij, "Die westlichen
Grundlagen des glagolitischen Alphabets," Sudostdeutsche Forschungen,
4 (Munich, 1940), 509-600.
17 P. Skok,
"Uslovi zivota glagoljice," Slovo, 3 (1953), 60.
18 Skok, "Uslovi,"
19 For more
on this see: "Kriticki pogled na Zice Cirilovo i Hrabrovu raspravu
O pismeneh," in Hrvatska glagoljica, pp. 35-50.
20 R. Pesic,
"Jedna nepoznata istorija Slovena. 'Izenbekove dascice' - 'Vles knjiga'
ili 'Jasna'," Pravoslavlje, no. 554 (1990), 9; G. Krasnov, "'Izenbekove
dascice' - najstariji nepoznati dokument slavenske pismenosti i proslosti,"
Marulic, no. 1 (1991), 84-85.
"Kriticki pogled," pp. 35-50.
22 J. Vasica,
"Slovanska liturgie sv. Petra," Byzantinoslavica, 8 (1946), 1-54.
23 The Kiev
Leaflets (or Folia) are fragments of a missal from the 10th
century that were copied (transcribed) from an earlier original dated
in the 9th century. The following studies have dealt with it: C. Mohlberg,
Il messale Glagolitico di Kiew (sec. IX) ed il suo prototipo Romano
del sec. VI-VII, in the series Memorie della Pontificia accademia
Romana di Archeologia, (Rome, 1928), II; J. Vajs, "Kanon charvatsko-hlaholskego
vatikanskeho misali III. 4. Prostejsek hlaholskych listu Kievskych,"
Casopis pro moderni filologie, 25 (1939), 113-134; id., "Mesni
rad charvatsko- hlaholskeho misalu III. 4 a jeho pomer k moravsko-pannonskemu
sakramentari stol. IX," Acta Academiae Velehradensis, 15, no.
2 (1939), 89-141; J. Vasica, "Slovanska liturgie nove osvetlena Kijevskymi
listy," Slovo a slovesnost, 6 (Prague, 1940), 65- 77.
24 Today this
missal is kept in the Vatican library: Fondo Borgiano-illirico 4.
The missal was written in the mid-14th century.
the origin of this liturgy cf.: J. M. Hanssens, "La liturgie romano-byzantine
de Saint Pierre," Orientalia Christiana Periodica, 4, (Rome,
1938), 243-258 and 5 (1939), 103-150; D. Cizevskij, "K voprosu o liturgiji
Sv. Petra," Slovo, 2 (1953), 36-40.
26 Cf.: M.
Polonijo, "Prvi uzmak glagoljice u krckog biskupiji," Radovi Staroslavenskog
instituta, 2 (Zagreb, 1955), 199.
27 M. Japundzic,
"Glagoljski brevijar iz g. 1465 (Vaticano-slavo 19)," Radovi Staroslavenskog
instituta, 2 (Zagreb, 1955), 155-191; id., "O predlosku evandelistara
najstarijega hrvatskoglagoljskog misala," in Tragom hrvatskoga glagolizma,
eds. Petar Basic and Stjepan Damjanovic (Zagreb: Provincijalat franjevaca
trecoredaca and Krscanska sadasnjost, 1995), pp. 119-148.
"O predlosku," pp. 119-148.
are some surveys of the Glagolitic bibliography: R. Strohal, Hrvatska
glagolska knjiga (Zagreb: Rudolf Strohal, 1915); I. Kukuljevic-Sakcinski,
Bibliografia hrvatska. Dio prvi, Tiskane knjige (Zagreb:
Brzotisak D. Albrechta, 1860); I. Milcetic, "Hrvatska glagolska bibliografija,"
Starine, 33 (Zagreb, 1911), XV + 505; Vj. Stefanic, Glagolski
rukopisi otoka Krka (Zagreb: Jugoslavenska akademija znanosti i
umjetnosti-JAZU, 1960); B. Fucic, Glagoljski natpisi (Zagreb:
JAZU, 1982)-supplement in Slovo, 38 (Zagreb, 1988), 63-73; A.
Dzurova, K. Stancev and M. Japundzic, Opis na slavjanskite rukopisi
vav Vatikanskata biblioteka/Catalogo dei Manoscritti Slavi della
Biblioteca Vaticana (Sofia: Svjat, 1985). The subject of Glagolitic
missals was treated in detail by J. Vajs in his book Najstariji hrvatskoglagoljski
misal, s bibliografskim opisima svih hrvatskoglagoljskih misala
(Zagreb: JAZU, 1948) while Glagolitic breviaries were covered in his
book Nejstarsi breviar chrvatsko-hlaholsky (Prague: Nakladem
Kral. Ceske spolecnosti nauk, 1910).
30 For details
on the Tablet of Baska cf.: Vj. Stefanic, "Opatija sv. Lucije
u Baski i drugi benediktinski samostani na Krku," Croatia sacra,
6 (Zagreb, 1936), 11-86; J. Hamm, "Datiranje glagoljskih tekstova,"
Radovi Staroslavenskog instituta, 1 (1952), 22-37; B. Fucic,
"Bascanska ploca kao arheoloski predmet," Slovo, 6 (1957), 247-262.
"Glagoljski brevijar," p. 190.
32 Z. Kulundzic,
"Problem najstarije stamparije na slavenskom jugu (Kosinj 1482.-1493.),"
Narodna Knjiznica, 1 (Zagreb, 1959), 21-28.
33 For an
examination of the Russification of Glagolitic books and especially
the missal from 1741, see: M. Japundzic, "Matteo Karaman, (1700.-1771.),"
Arivescovo di Zara (Rome, 1961).
is the oldest name for a poet, who was a canto-versificator. Cf.: F.
Fancev, "Gradja za pjesnicki leksikon hrvatskoga jezika," Gradja
za povijest knjizevnosti hrvatske, 15 (Zagreb, 1940), 182-200; P.
Skok, "Sitni prilozi proucavanju pjesnickoga jezika nase srednje knjizevnosti
i najstariji izraz pjesnika," Prilozi za knjizevnost, jezik, istoriju
i folklor, book 18, vol. 1-2 (Belgrade, 1938), 292- 301.
35 Marko Marulic
(1450-1526) of Split studied languages and classical literature, philosophy,
poetics, and rhetoric in Padua. He was also a painter and sculptor.
After returning to his homeland, he led a strict aesthetic and contemplative
life. Among his many literary works, his best known one in the Croatian
language is called Judita or in full: Istorija sv. udovice
Judit u versih hrvacki slozena (The history of the holy widow
Judith, composed in Croatian verses) of 1501. His best known work
in Latin is: De institutione bene beateque vivendi juxta exempla
sanctorum. Shortly after it was first published, this work (De
institutione) was translated into Italian, French, Portugese, Czech,
German and Croatian, and during the same century underwent nineteen
editions. It is known that during his long journey across the East St.
Francis Xavier carried along with his breviary only Marulic's work De
institutione. With regard to Judita, it was considered a
great success among older and later poets. In only two years after its
appearance, the epic Judita underwent three editions. Although
Marulic was not the first Croatian poet, based upon his success, he
was certainly the first major poet. Cf.: F. Trograncic, Storia della
letteratura croata (Rome, 1953), p. 44 and following; M. Kombol,
Povijest hrvatske knjizevnosti do narodnoga preporoda, 2nd ed.
(Zagreb: Matica hrvatska, 1961), p. 81 and afterwards.
Zagiba, "Der historische Umkreis der Kiever Sakramentar-fragmente,"
Slovo, 14 (1964), 59-77; W. Vondrak, Altkirchenslavishe Grammatik
(Berlin, 1912), p. 30; id., O puvodu Kijevskych listu a Prazskych
zlomku (Prague: Spisuv poctenych jubilejni cenou Kral. Ceske spolecnosti
Nauk., 1904); St. M. Kuljbakin, "Izvestija otdelenija russkago jazyka
i slovesnosti," 10 (1905), 320-338; id., "Du classement des textes vieux
slaves," Revue de etudes slaves, 2 (1922), 106-201.
Pantelic, "O Kijevskim i Sinajskim listicima,"
Croatian Glagolitic Script