- St Mary's Monastry


    St. Mary's monastery (1066.)


    In the second half of the 11th century Croatian king was Petar Kresimir IV. from Trpimirović dynasty. Having the title of ‘’King of Croatia and Dalmatia '', Kresimir led the Croatian Kingdom, as well as the dynasty itself, to the summit of power. Kresimir’s strength was based on encouraging the development of Croatian towns, but also in supporting the Church.

    During the rise of Croatian cities, city of Zadar stood out with trading and political progress. 

    Thanks to the extremely favourable strategic position and strong trade links with the hinterland, the town was becoming an increasing competition to the ambitious Venice.


    Leading aristocratic family in the town of Zadar, from the 10th to the late 11th century were Madijevci. Strategists were chosen from their family, as well as heads of the city and bishops. They were also related to Croatian kings. According to some historians, Cika from  genus of Madijevaca was the  half - sister of king Petar Kresimir IV, although some tend to disagree. She married a nobleman Andrew and had two daughters with him, Ana Domnana and Vekenega. After becoming a widow, Cika and her older daughter decided to become nuns.  She used all her property for the construction and equipping of women's Benedictine monastery that she wanted to found. Her brother and other relatives supported her financially and helped with the decision, while the city of Zadar freed the monastery from tax. 
    Women’s Benedictine monastery of St. Mary was built in 1066, next to the existing church of St. Mary, on the eastern side of the former Roman forum in Zadar.  Very soon, Cika went to see the king Petar Kresimir IV, who at the time lived in his favourite city - Šibenik. The documents show that the king called her ''soror mea'' ( lat. my sister). On this occasion, the king gave the monastery of St. Mary in Zadar as well as some land property "royal freedom ", which exempted it from aristocratic, county and city governments, and directly subjected it to the king. 
    Cika received these privileges at Christmas, in 1066. That became the foundation of the future life and work of St. Mary’s convent in Zadar. Furthermore, in this Petar Krešimir’s document to Cika from genus of Madijevaca, is the first historic mention of Šibenik, even today known as ''Krešimir's town''.
    Entering the convent as a nun, Cika brought, with other precious, one valuable breviary, the first European layperson personal prayer book. That manuscript is not only the oldest preserved book of its kind in the world, but contains interesting literary compositions, beautiful small pictures and a series of songs notes from Cika’s time .


    St. Mary’s monastery eventually became the centre of not only religious life, but also the cultural and artistic life in Croatia. The Benedictines, respecting the rule of order: ''Ora et labora’’ (lat .''Pray and work'') made and embroidered silk, owned collections of gold, silver, frescos, sculptures, paintings and other works of art, that are kept in the convent for over a thousand years  and have become a national treasure.