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The problem of Saint George in Croatia and Saint George on the church’s relief in Žrnovnica
The veneration of Saint George could have started among the Croats– if they did not encounter it already during their colonisation in Dalmatia– in the time of their conversion to Catholicism at the end of the 8th century or in the first decades of the 9th century, which most probably happened through Benedictine monks. The story about Saint George killing the dragon is known in the East and West and has been retained in the Croatian territory for centuries, particularly in Dalmatia. The centuries–old tradition of the population of Žrnovnica confirms that the church’s relief in Žrnovnica depicts Saint George killing the beast with the lance. In case the ancient tradition about Saint George from Solin and its continuity is considered authentic, than the relief on the church in Žrnovnica could be dated the earliest already to the period of Franco–Croatian relations at the end of the 8th century or to the first decades of the 9th century. Otherwise, this relief could be also dated to the second half of the 12th or to the first half of the 13th century the latest. Ante Milošević tries to spread the idea that the relief on the church in Žrnovnica shows the “battle” between Perun and Veles, although the decoration of this relief itself– with two Christian crosses– is sufficient evidence of its Christian meaning. It is almost impossible to imagine that even the most primitive master had decorated the illustration of an antichristian motif with Christian crosses. Additionally, the so–called “divine battle” between Perun and Veles could not been depicted on this relief as there is not even the slightest confirmation in the entire Slavic world– and also in the Balkans– that such a belief had ever existed. Attempts of reconstructing the problematic issues in regard to Perun like the reconstruction done by linguists Ivanov and Toporov as well as their followers remain only unproven ideas of individual authors. Their assumptions about Perun and Veles are also entirely contrary to Nestor’s Chronicle from which it can only be concluded that there was a mutual nonopposition of these pagan idols. The study of myths in the sense that the “Divine Battle” between Perun and Veles existed is really turning into creation of myths.
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