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Bosnian Franciscan missionaries in Turkish Hungary (1584-1716)

Istvan Gyorgy Toth

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 242 Kb

str. 178-201

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The work of the Bosnian Franciscan missionaries (i.e. the Franciscans of the Province called Bosnia Argentina, many of whom did not originate from geographic or political Bosnia) represents a peculiar episode in the history of the Catholic renewal in Central Europe. By studying these developments, we may become acquainted with the manner in which the various denominations and nationalities coexisted in the Carpathian basin. The mission of the Bosnian Franciscans was successful, because it could fall back upon a large southern Slav population. The Bosnian missionaries were soon pushed out of Moldavia and Transylvania, provinces without Southern Slavs. In Bulgaria, however, they began an extremely successful mission that soon fell into the hands of Bulgarian friars who formed an independant separate province. In Bosnia, however, they never had any real rivals. In Turkish Hungary the Bosnian Franciscan mission was highly successful, owing to good relations with the Turks and the increasing numbers of southern Slavs. Of all the missionary initiatives supported by the Holy Congregation for the Propagation of Faith in Turkish Hungary, the conversion work of the Bosnian Franciscan missionaries was of by far the greatest effect. The mission in Turkish Hungary „employed“ about only one-tenth of the friars of the province of Bosnia, but this external assistance was of vital significance for the Hungarian Catholic dioceses under Turkish rule.
The beginning of the Long War in 1683 brought a fundamental change to the lives of the Bosnian Franciscans. It seemed that the final hour of Ottoman rule had struck in Bosnia, which would finally be free of the Turkish yoke, after two and a half centuries of occupation. The Bosnian Franciscans welcomed the Christian armies enthusiastically, and often gave real help to the imperial armies: Bishop Nikola Ogramić (Nicoló Ogramich), and the vicar-general Luka Ibrišimović, both of whom were Bosnian Franciscans, served as field-chaplains among the Christian troops. They forwarded military information and encouraged the Christians to revolt against Turkish rule. While Christian troops did enter Bosnia, at the end of the war the country reverted to being a province of the Ottoman empire. Seeing that their rule was in danger, the Turks turned against the Bosnian Franciscans. In their ruthless anger, they destroyed most of the monasteries, forcing the friars to flee. At the time of the Peace of Carlowitz / Sremski Karlovci (1699), just five monasteries were left standing in Bosnia. They were inhabited by a total of twenty-six Franciscan priests and three lay brothers. Meanwhile the bishop of Bosnia moved to Đakovo in Slavonia (which had already once been the seat of the bishopric, until the early 16th century), where he lived in separation from his faithful, who continued to live under Turkish rule in Bosnia.
In the meantime Turkish Hungary was liberated from the Ottomans. The Catholic Church organization - which had been living in „exile“ in Royal Hungary „wanted to recapture“ Turkish Hungary. The Hungarian bishops and Franciscans regarded the Bosnian friars as the concomitants of Turkish rule. They considered that the reestablishment of the medieval organization of the church made their presence superfluous. Thus, the beginning of the 18th century saw tough battles between the Bosnians and the returning Hungarian Franciscans.
Still, the Bosnian Franciscans knew more about conditions in Turkish Hungary than anyone else and were repeatedly prepared to risk their own lives. For as long as a large part of Hungary was being held by the Turks, the Bosnian Franciscans were indispensable in keeping Hungarians, southern Slavs, and Romanians in Western Christian culture.

Ključne riječi

Franciscan missionaries, Bosna Srebrena

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