Dr. Dushan L. Kashich

Greek-Serbian symbiosis in northern Dalmatia from 15th to 18th centuries

pages: 259-280

Abstract

Having reviewed the existence of Greek churches in towns of Northern Dalmatia during the Byzantine rule, the author presents the creation of some new Greek military and commercial colonies in this region during the rule of Venice (1409—1797) and the efforts of the Greeks to obtain their prayer-houses. A migration of the Serbs into Dalmatian towns started at that time. They became members of Greek Church congregations and together with the Greeks fought for the preservation of their Orthodox faith. In that way a Greek-Serbian symbiosis in this region began and developed. The united Greeks and Serbs got, after a hard struggle, their churcxes at Zadar (1548), Shibenik (1569), Skradin (1684) and the Monastery of St. Paraskeve (the Veneranda) on the Island of Hvar (1561).

The Greeks were nearly exclusively parish-priests in these churches (except at Skradin) until the middle of 17th C., and since then, because of the increasing number of Serbs, a Serb used to become a chaplain to the Greek parish priest. Without a flux of new immigrants the Greek colonies decreased gradually and disappeared entirely in the beginning of 19th C., so that these Church congregations have remained purely Serbian.

This symbiosis had positive results for both sides. The Serbs were helpful to the Greeks as a reinforcement of their always weaker congregations, and the Greeks offered to the Serbs an opportunity to develop their religious life and cultural heritage. Their common resistance against the Roman-Catholic prosely- tism also brought reciprocal benefit. The most valuable trace of this symbiosis has remained in the Church painting, and the most beautiful works were done under the influence of the Byzantine, Italo-Cretan school. Many of these icons are even today a wonderful decoration of Dalmatian churches.

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