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Ancient heritage of the St. Francis’ monastery in Split

Nenad Cambi ; University of Zadar, Zadar, Croatia

Puni tekst: hrvatski, pdf (731 KB) str. 135-159 preuzimanja: 1.017* citiraj
APA 6th Edition
Cambi, N. (2005). Antička baština samostana sv. Frane u Splitu. Adrias, (12), 135-159. Preuzeto s
MLA 8th Edition
Cambi, Nenad. "Antička baština samostana sv. Frane u Splitu." Adrias, vol. , br. 12, 2005, str. 135-159. Citirano 18.01.2021.
Chicago 17th Edition
Cambi, Nenad. "Antička baština samostana sv. Frane u Splitu." Adrias , br. 12 (2005): 135-159.
Cambi, N. (2005). 'Antička baština samostana sv. Frane u Splitu', Adrias, (12), str. 135-159. Preuzeto s: (Datum pristupa: 18.01.2021.)
Cambi N. Antička baština samostana sv. Frane u Splitu. Adrias [Internet]. 2005 [pristupljeno 18.01.2021.];(12):135-159. Dostupno na:
N. Cambi, "Antička baština samostana sv. Frane u Splitu", Adrias, vol., br. 12, str. 135-159, 2005. [Online]. Dostupno na: [Citirano: 18.01.2021.]

The Split archaedeacon Thomas from 13th century states that the Split archbishop John the 4th had built the church of St. Felix on the place of the present-day monastery of St. Francis (Sv. Frane). The archbishop John died in 1060 AD. St. Felix must have been a local saint who was mentioned in Chronicon Paschale (late 4th century AD) as fellow sufferer of the Salonitan bishop and martyr Domnio (+ April 10th 304). This is not Felix mentioned in Usuardo’s martyrologium as some Split scholars supposed, since this belonged to the city of Hispellum (present-day Spello) in Italy. Some old groundplans from the time preceding the reconstruction of the monastery seem to have certain elements of Early Christian architecture as evidenced by an octogonal structure to the north of the the church which might have been the baptistery or a mausoleum (fig. 1). There are a number of other monuments suggesting that St. Francis was built on an important Early Christian site. The paper lists all the fi nds beginning with the two lost inscriptions which were published in CIL III 2043 and 2107 (8589). The complete texts of these inscriptions might be red in the Croatian text. Both belonged to sarcophagi fragments. They do not contain any direct Christian formulation or symbol. The inscriptions are dating from the late 3rd to the early 4th century AD. The dead persons were metal workers in the factory of weapons in Salona which is testifi ed by Notitia Dignitatum (c. 8). The inscriptions contain also some other formulations. A remearkable Christian sarcophagus showing the Red Sea Crossing testifi es even more to the importance of this site (fig. 2). This marble sarcophagus is one of the fi nest and best preserved with this theme. On the right side two young apostles glorifying the Christ monogramme surrounded by a wreath on the plastically rendered cross were shown (fig. 4). Only the squamae decoration is executed on the left side (fig. 3) while on the back young apsotles in the corners (fi gs 6, 7) and a female orans (with her arms stretched and velatio capitis) in the centre (fig. 5). The latter represents either the institution of the Church or Virgin Mary. The sarcophagus was made around 390 AD. It was the import either from Rome or from southern Gaul. Another fragment of a sarcophagus produced in Rome or in Gaul showing three persons is walled into the southern wall of the cloister (fig. 8). The fi rst fi gure to the left is a soldier in the armour and with a shield. The two persons to the right must have been apostles with scrolls in their hands. Such a combination of a soldier and apostles is not familiar on such sarcophagi. However, the scene to the left depicts very probably the duel between Goliath (the soldier) and David who must have been shown with the catapult to the left (there are some slight remains of a fi gure). It is quite sure that to the right was the scene of apostles and the Christ, but it is not known the number of apostles. Their number must have been reduced (probably only three on each side of Christ).). This fragment very likely belonged to the sarcophagus body, since scenes of the Christ with apostles did not appear on the lid. The sarcophagus was probably a small one (child’s dimensions). The fragment is dating also from the end of the 4th century. A small pilaster (a part of a window) with large cross inscribed on its front side was walled into the western part of the southern church wall (fig. 9). Letter N and fi ve arm star were cut at the top later. Also a circle with the cross and letter A were cut at the bottom. The meaning and the time of execution of these letters and signs are not known. A sarcophagus acroterion of a sarcophagus with deeply cut cross is walled up into the side door of the church of St. Francis (fig. 10). This acroterion is very similar to Salonitan ones. On the opposite side of the same door a fragment of altar or ambo screen slab was also walled up (fig. 11). This fragment contains a lily blossom in the left corner of the bottom. Altogether seven ancient or Early Christian monuments have been found in S. Francis’s church. Ancient graves were found in the vicinity. Fragment of a burial relief is walled up in Ban Mladenova street. A stele containing an ancient epitaph is built in the Plinarska street, while Early Christian fragments were found in St. Mikula (St. Nicolas) church which is also near. All these fi nds testify to the existence of an important archaeological site around the St. Francis’s Church. Therefore the possibility that martyr Felix might have been buried there is very probable.

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