Franciscan monastery, Dubrovnik
by Natasa Lujic
The large Franciscan church, one of the richest churches in Dubrovnik at the time, was destroyed in the earthquake of 1667. The only element of the former building which has been preserved is the portal on the south wall. It was probably moved from the front to the lateral wall in the course of the restoration in the 17th century.
According to the contract of 1498, this portal, the most monumental one in Dubrovnik at that time, was carved in the leading local workshop owned by the brothers Leonard and Petar Petrovic. The portal has all the marks of the Gothic style, but the solid volumes of the figures show the Renaissance spirit.The figures of St. Jerome and St. John the Baptist are set above the door-posts, while the Piet� in relief is represented in the central Gothic lunette. The figure of the Father Creator is above the lunette. Such iconography of the portal and the choice of the patron saints are proof of the aspirations and social doctrine of the Franciscan in the political circumstances of the times. St. John the Baptist symbolizes Christian constancy in the face of the Turkish penetration. St. Jerome symbolizes the spiritual unity with the rest of Dalmatia.
The Piet� symbolizes their compassion with the poorest members of the urban community who sought solace from the Franciscans anyhow, and the figure of the Creator on top should symbolize opposition to the humanist world-views of the time.
The church was reconstructed in the Baroque style. The northern wall of the church closes the southern wing of one of the most beautiful cloisters of Dubrovnik. This cloister was built in late Romanesque style by master Mihoje Brajkov of Bar in 1360.
The ambient is most harmonious, framed by a colonnade of double hexaphoras, each with a completely different capital.
The Franciscan cloister is one of the most valuable late Romanesque creations on the Croatian shores of the Adriatic. The Franciscan monastery has another cloister built in the Gothic style, but it is for private use only and not accessible to the public.
A pharmacy was founded in the monastery 1317, the third oldest in the whole world, continuously functioning until present day. The monastery owns one of the richest old libraries in the Croatia, famous all over the world for the value of its inventory. The collection has over 20000 books, over 1200 of which are old manuscripts of extraordinary value and importance, 137 incunables and 7 books of old church corals.
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