• Historical Background

    The Eparchy of Upper Karlovac
    • Jadovno

      The area between Gospić and Velebit,
    • Before and after

      Episcopal Palace before and after IIWW
    • St Sava

      Hieromartyr Sava (Trlajić) of Upper Karlovac
    • 1909

      Episcopal complex
    • 1
    • The Eparchy

      The Eparchy of Upper Karlovac

Historical Background

The Eparchy of Upper Karlovac

Comitatus Plazy

The Diocese of Upper Karlovac comprises the most western Serbian territories: Banija, Kordun, Lika, Krbava, Gorski Kotar, as well as northern Croatia and Istria. It was named after the town of Karlovac, where its See is located. These territories have been settled by the Serbs ever since the 15th century, and more intensely in the first decades of the 16th century. The main settlements were Žumberak and Bela Krajina, and then the areas near Gomirje and Gorski Kotar. During Turkish rule in central Lika (1528–1699), the Serbs moved to cragged, rugged land of Lika from Dalmatia, while Serbs from Bosnia settled mostly in Krbava. Many of them migrated from there to Austrian-held territories, i.e. to the area of the Vojna Krajina (Military "Buffer" Zone).

During the 16th century, the spiritual life of Orthodox Serbs of this area was guided by the metropolitans of Dabar-Bosnia. The See of this Metropolitanate was at one time in Monastery Rmanj, at the tri-juncture of Bosnia-Dalmatia-Lika. When parts of Lika, Banija and Krbava, which had been to this time under Turkish rule, were liberated at the end of the 17th century, a separate Diocese of Karlovac-Zrinopolje was established (1695).

The first Bishop of the Diocese was a refugee from Bosnia, Metropolitan of Dabar-Bosnia Atanasije Ljubojević (1696–1712). In 1713 the Diocese of Karlovac-Zrinopolje was divided into two: the Diocese of Karlovac-Senj-Coastlands and the Diocese of Kostajnica-Zrinopolje. Danilo Ljubotina, Bishop of the former, founded his Episcopal Residence in Plaški. During the 18th century, the areas under Austrian rule were administered by the Bishops of Marca.

Roman Catholic proselytism and forced conversion to the Uniate Church (recognizing the authority of the Roman Pontiff) were a constant danger for Orthodox Serbis within the borders of the Diocese of Karlovac. Proof of that religious aggressiveness is the fate of the Serbian people in Žumberak, forcibly subjected to the Uniate Church in the 17th and 18th centuries. In that disparate struggle between the Roman Catholic Church, supported by the Austrian Court and Army, the loss of Žumberak was inevitable. Moreover, the military authorities, under the advice of the Roman Catholic clergy, expelled Orthodox priests, denying the Orthodox Bishop access to these regions. In order to preserve the Serbs in the faith of their fathers and the spirit of Saint Sava, Bishop Pavle Nenadović (1744–1749), later Metropolitan of Karlovci, founded a "Central School" in Plaški for the educating of young seminarians. Also through the efforts of this eminent Bishop a similar school was established in Zalužnice, near Vrhovina. Bishop Danilo Jakšić (1751–1771), a Hierarch of great pastoral devoutness and holy life, also worked hard for the enlightenment of Serbian youth.

Serbian Ortodox Episcopal Church in Plaški Repairs Appeal

Orthodox Serbis within the borders of the Eparchy of Upper Karlovac in the ustashas' (ustaše) state of Croatia (1941-1945)

idvorThe twentieth century has seen the crowning of a multitude of martyrs. The sacrifice and memory of these martyrs must not be allowed to remain hidden, known only to their fellow Orthodox countrymen, but should be published and commemorated for the edification of all Orthodox Christians. Unfortunately, many Orthodox Christians are ignorant of the sufferings of the nearly 750,000 Orthodox Serbian Christians who gave their lives in the defense and confession of the faith during the time of the last world war in the so-called "Independent State of Croatia".

On April 10, 1941 as the German troops were being welcomed into Zagreb, the independent state of Croatia was proclaimed.
Soon both the private and public use of the Cyrillic alphabet was prohibited, and the Serbs were required to wear the letter "P" (for Pravoslavac -- Orthodox) on their arms.

The massacres of Orthodox Serbs began shortly after the creation of the Croatian state. In the area between Gospić and Velebit, where the terrain is rocky with many canyons and ravines, the Ustashi (ustaše)would take their Orthodox Serbian prisoners in long convoys on foot, two-by-two and all linked by a long chain, to the edge of a cliff, where they would kill them and then throw their bodies into the ravine. During its 132 days of operation in 1941, it is estimated that 40,123 people were killed in concentration camps near Gospić, of which 32,103 in Jadovno and 8,020 in the nearby camps Slana and Metajna on the island of Pag.

This persecution was aimed at the complete elimination of the Orthodox Church in these areas. Attempts at forced conversion to Catholicism were joined to a systematic and completely overt destruction of every trace of Orthodoxy. All of this was done in such a fierce and inconceivably brutal manner and in such a short span of time and relatively small geographic area that it is difficult even to imagine.

During the time of the persecution, nearly 300 Orthodox churches in the territory of the Croatian state were destroyed. In the diocese of Karlovac 173 out of 189 temples were demolished. Others were desecrated by being turned into slaughterhouses, stables and latrines. Still others were given over to the Roman Catholics, as were several of the historic Orthodox monasteries. Many of the damaged churches have been restored by the Serbian Church since the war.

From: A Brief Historical Background