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The Destroyed Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Silba*

Eugen Motušić ; independent researcher, Zadar, Croatia

Puni tekst: hrvatski, pdf (2 MB) str. 347-368 preuzimanja: 1.053* citiraj
APA 6th Edition
Motušić, E. (2014). Porušena crkva Rođenja Blažene Djevice Marije u Silbi. Ars Adriatica, (4), 347-368. Preuzeto s
MLA 8th Edition
Motušić, Eugen. "Porušena crkva Rođenja Blažene Djevice Marije u Silbi." Ars Adriatica, vol. , br. 4, 2014, str. 347-368. Citirano 27.11.2020.
Chicago 17th Edition
Motušić, Eugen. "Porušena crkva Rođenja Blažene Djevice Marije u Silbi." Ars Adriatica , br. 4 (2014): 347-368.
Motušić, E. (2014). 'Porušena crkva Rođenja Blažene Djevice Marije u Silbi', Ars Adriatica, (4), str. 347-368. Preuzeto s: (Datum pristupa: 27.11.2020.)
Motušić E. Porušena crkva Rođenja Blažene Djevice Marije u Silbi. Ars Adriatica [Internet]. 2014 [pristupljeno 27.11.2020.];(4):347-368. Dostupno na:
E. Motušić, "Porušena crkva Rođenja Blažene Djevice Marije u Silbi", Ars Adriatica, vol., br. 4, str. 347-368, 2014. [Online]. Dostupno na: [Citirano: 27.11.2020.]

It is known that the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Silba was demolished in 1828 so as to provide the necessary building material for the completion of the new parish church which inherited the dedication from the old one. As we learn from the archival records, the demolition was authorized by the Archbishop of Zadar Josip Nowak who stipulated that the Franciscan Church of Our Lady of Carmel would function as the local parish church while the new one was being built. All that remains from the old church today is the bell tower which continued to be used by the new parish church.
It is obvious from the schematic ground plan and the dimensions of the demolished church, recorded in the now lost document from the parish church archive, that it was a single-nave longitudinal structure with a rectangular sacristy to the east, two shallow chapels extending from the lateral walls and a porch of the lopica type (resembling a loggia) at the front which abutted onto the corner of the bell tower with its own south corner. Apart from the high altar, placed against the back wall, the church had three pairs of side altars.
The analysis of the canonical visitations carried out during the second quarter of the seventeenth century demonstrates that the church, recorded for the first time in 1579, was a modest building in which the oil for the anointment of the sick was being kept because the local parish church of that time, dedicated to St Mark, was too far from the village. The church was provided with five side altars put up by the more distinguished individuals and members of the lay fraternities the most prominent of which was that of Our Lady of the Rosary after which the church was called by eighteenth-century locals. Based on the analysis of the 1670 visitation of Archbishop Evangelisto Parzaghi who described the renovation during which certain altars changed their places, the article argues that the church was completed just before this visit. The bell tower was mentioned as a campanile for the first time in 1678.
By means of comparative analysis, it can be established that the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin at Silba belonged to the same architectural type as a large group of simple yet spacious churches which were built in rural communities along the east Adriatic coast by local masters during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The activity of such masters on the island of Silba is corroborated by contemporary birth, marriage and death records as well as a number of monuments such as a tombstone in the Church of St Mark and the door lintel in the house of master builder Franić Lorencin (1660), both of which depict building and carving tools.
The analysis of the land registry maps and topographical drawings of 1824 and 1833 shows that the church’s south wall, to the east of the chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary, was laid in a different direction compared to that of the rest of the wall, indicating that this portion belonged to an earlier layer of the building which, judging from everything, seems to have been medieval. Therefore, the wall was widened and extended towards the west during the rebuilding documented in the visitation of 1670. This possibility, which a future excavation of the site ought to be confirm, is strengthened by the frequency of such alterations as can be seen on the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century churches on the island of Ugljan and in particular on the Church of St Lawrence at Lukoran, built in 1632, which is the best example of that architectural type.
Another feature of these churches is the lopica-type porch which stands out as an architectural element typical of Istria and the Quarnero gulf to which, geographically speaking, the island of Silba gravitates. The lopica porch of the Church of the Nativity at Silba had a particularly elongated plan and featured two symmetrical sets of three supports and an axial main entrance into the porch, that is, the church. It is unlikely that the porch was added prior to the late seventeenth century because during that time, Silba was exposed to the raids of the Turkish pirates who threatened it directly. It is certain that the bell tower was used for defensive purposes and the addition of a porch would have diminished its importance as a fortification structure and hampered the visual communication with the entrance to the church.
The examination of the architecture of the bell tower revealed two different building phases: an earlier one which included the body of the bell tower and a later one which saw the addition of the pyramidal structure together with a shallow square drum. In its original form, the bell tower had a compact body featuring a round-headed opening at the centre of each side of the two topmost storeys. Their stylistically undefined morphology corresponds to modest bell towers which were built in this area from the late sixteenth to the eighteenth century. The original pyramidal top had to be dismantled in 1858 due to wear and tear and it was replaced by the present one which has oval openings at the bottom of each side of the drum. This structure is almost identical to the top of the bell tower of the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary at Preko on the island of Ugljan which was built in 1844.
Based on the archival records, the article also establishes that the substantially repainted image of the Virgin and Child with SS Mark and Matthew, today at the high altar of the parish church, was originally larger. It was the object of ex-voto veneration and numerous offerings had been placed in its glass case. The painting was cropped so that it could be inserted into the niche of the marble altar piece designed by Ćiril M. Iveković (1898) which meant the loss of the two evangelists. According to the preserved contract and drawing, the lower part of the altar was set up in 1860 by Giovanni dalla Zonca, an altar maker from Vodnjan, and it featured the still preserved wooden statues of SS Peter and Paul which are dated to the mid-seventeenth century on the basis of their stylistic features. Therefore, it can be concluded that painting and the statues were taken from the high altar of the demolished church.

Ključne riječi
Silba; Church of the Nativity of the Virgin; vernacular architecture; lopica porch; bell tower; altars; seventeenth to nineteenth century

Hrčak ID: 130929



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