02. 02. 2016 @ Antonija Eremut

The museum's collection and the Franciscan monastery, Humac

Category: cultural heritage GPS: LAT: 43.1843873555124 / LONG 17.5339351636789

Franciscan monastery Humac-Ljubuški is home to the archaeological collection popularly known as Muzej Humac (Humac Museum). It was founded in 1884, four years before the National Museum in Sarajevo. The collection contains a large number of exhibits from Herzegovina, from the Neolithic period to the Middle Ages, in a variety of materials: stone, bronze, copper, iron, silver, gold, ceramics, glass and wood. The modern museum exhibition was first opened to the public in 1973, but six years later it was closed due to adaptation of the monastery. New opening took place on the centenary of the collection in 1984. Due to the dangers of war the museum collection was once again closed to the public in 1992, and then a new one was opened the same year in the basement of the monastery. Displayed exhibits date from the early and late Stone Age, through the Copper, Bronze and Iron Age and to the Roman and Late Roman period and the Middle Ages. The oldest Prehistoric periods, Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic, are represented only by individual flint and copper objects, but it is still not known with a certainty where they originate from. Exhibits belonging to the youngest periods of Prehistory, the Bronze and Iron Ages, are much more numerous. They are mostly decorative objects or bronze tools and weapons found mainly in graves. The area of Ljubuški in Herzegovina abounds mostly in remains of Roman culture. Among other things, 74 stone inscriptions were discovered, most of which are military tombstones. The typical Roman military tombstone (“stela“) was often more than two meters high, made of a high quality limestone, which was sometimes commissioned from famous workshops in Tilurium (today's Trilj) and Narona (Vid near Metković). All relevant information was engraved on the inscription: name of the deceased, of his father, of the city or the electoral district where the deceased came from, a military unit in which he served, number of years he served in the military service, a year when he died and who raised the monument. A monument so richly decorated and worked was worth a fortune, and only the wealthy could afford to put it on the grave. Those were probably Roman military officers, veterans, landowners, owners of individual properties in Ljubuški field and rich merchants. Most tombstones were found in Hardomilj, which is probably where a military cemetery was located. Villages by the road Salona – Bigeste – Narona, such as Radišići, Proboj and Vitina, are rich in movable finds.

The museum collection of the Franciscan monastery in Humac accommodates the Humac Plate, one of the oldest and most important Cyrillic monuments in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Linguists and historians are still having a hard time trying to read it. The plate itself weighs 142 kg, it is made of domestic limestone, and its dimensions are 0.68 x 0.59 x 0.15 m. The inscription on a square plate runs spirally in three rows and has 80 letters, of which five are Glagolitic (four times the letter "E" and one "T"). What is intriguing in reading the inscription are definitely personal names, names of the donor and his wife, and the name of the parish mentioned in the inscription. The Humac Plate is founder's inscription, telling us about the construction of the church of St. Michael the Archangel. In standard Croatian the inscription on the Humac Plate would read as follows: + “U IME OCA I SINA I SVETOGA DUHA. OVO JE CRKVA ARKANĐELA MIHOVILA, A ZIDAO JU JE KREŠIMIR, SIN SRETKOV, ŽUPI RASTOCI I NJEGOVA ŽENA PRAVICA. “(IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, THE SON AND THE HOLY SPIRIT. THIS IS THE CHURCH OF ST MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL, ERECTED BY KREŠIMIR, THE SON OF SRETKO AND HIS WIFE PRAVICA TO THE PARISH RASTOKA). Archaeologists have not yet found the remains of the Church of St Michael, mentioned in the text. It can be assumed that it was located near the present church of St Anthony in Humac. It seems that the Plate served as altar mensa, right there in the Church of St Michael. The inscription was written by a poorly literate stonemason, applying a spiral way of writing, so that it could be read going around the altar.

Another valuable stone monument, little known to the public, is exposed in the collection in Humac. It is a stone plate (Plate from Ljubuški), with a carved floral interlace motif on the front lateral side. If we compare it with similar findings in the Croatian coast, from Dubrovnik to Ston, one can conclude that it is a Pre-Romanesque decoration, typical of the old Croatian interlace style, found on the stone furniture in churches, usually around the altar partitions and walls.

Monastery library

Franciscan monks from Herzegovina founded the monastery library in 1867, with the beginning of construction of the monastery Humac, Ljubuški. When the monastery was built, books were located in different rooms. In 1968 a special room was set in the west wing of the monastery, where they transferred all the books with manuscripts and archival documents. The library today has more than 20 000 copies of books from almost all areas of natural and social sciences: asceticism, fiction, biblical science, history, law, Franciscanism, catechetics, lexicology, linguistics, natural science, etc. It contains well-preserved old books from the 16th to the 19th century. A special section includes periodicals from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. The rarities of the Humac library include a group of books of Greek and Roman classics, and works of the Franciscan writers. Worth mentioning, inter alia, are the following: Homer's Odyssey printed in 1533, Iliad printed in 1537, Plutarch's Moralia Opusculorum, Herodian's Historiae, Cicero's Epistolae ad Atticum, songs of Horatius Flaccus issued in 1606, and the works of the great Croatians Matija Divković, Ivan Ančić, Filip Lastrić, Lovre Šitović, Rafe Barišić and the works of the Franciscans of Herzegovina. At the end of 2003 the library was completely restored and situated in the west wing of the monastery. The most modern shelves were obtained, protecting the books from moisture and sunlight. Cataloging and computerization of the library is still ongoing.

Franciscan Gallery

As part of the Franciscan monastery in Humac, an art collection called Mother was opened in 2004. The idea of founding the collection came from Dr Brother Ljudevit Rupčić and Dr Brother Viktor Nuić. The two of them decided in 2001 to open a collection as a joint donation to the monastery in Humac. In the course of three years the collection increased significantly. With the help of donations of good people, the area of the former library was thoroughly renovated. The collection contains around 250 works of art, of which nearly 140 sculptures in various materials, and the rest are paintings, drawings and prints. About forty sculptors and twenty painters from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina are represented in the collection, two sculptors from Slovenia, a Russian painter Alexander Zvyagin, and several sculptors and painters from Congo. A significant number of represented Croatian sculptors were active in the first half of the 20th century: Ivan Meštrović, Antun Augustinčić, Frano Kršinić and Zlatko Prica. Academically trained sculptor Juraj Škarpa is represented with 28 works, and a representative selection exists also in the segment of works by Vanja Radaus. Living Croatian sculptors represented in the collection are: Ante Despot, Velibor Mačukatin, Šime Vulas, Stanko Jančić, Stipe Sikirica, Ante Starčević, Josip Marinović, Ante Orlić, Tomislav Ostoja, Kruno Bošnjak, Kuzma Kovačić, Kažimir Hraste, Jasna Bogdanović and others. Represented painters are: Mladen Veža, Josip Bifel, Ana Marija Botteri Peruzović, Vasilije Jordan, Hrvoje Šercar, Josip Botteri Dini, Ivan Lacković Croata, Alma Orlić, Ante Cetin, Vladimir Vrljić Ankin and others. The collection also includes sculptures of following Croatian artists, originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina: Ante Matković, Vene Jerković, Marijan Sušac, Ane Kovač, Ante Brkić, Stipe Divković, Ilije Bula and Ivan Križanac. Represented painters are Gabrijel Jurkić, Božo Drmić, Ana Kovač and others.

Franciscan monastery in Humac, Ljubuški

After the construction of the first monastery in Široki Brijeg, Franciscans decided to build another monastery in Humac, next to Ljubuški. The foundation stone of the new monastery was blessed by the Apostolic Vicar, Brother Anđeo Kraljević, in 1867. Construction of the monastery lasted for ten years and it was led by Brother Nikola Šimović. Novitiate of Hercegovina's Franciscan Custody was located in the new monastery, recognized in 1876 by a decree of the head of the Order. Custody's board decided to build in Humac a seminary for the education of young Franciscans. Construction progressed well and the seminary was completed in 1871. At the same time, the area alongside the parish house was purchased to build the church. When the Sultan's order was received, the construction of the parish church of St. Anthony of Padua began, and was completed in 1869. Simultaneously with the church, a bell tower with two bells was built, which were destroyed during World War I when the Austro-Hungarian army used them to make cannons. Construction of the monastery proceeded again in 1895, when the old house was demolished and east wing of the monastery was built on its place. The monastery expanded gradually over the following decades. During World War II it suffered a major damage. West wing of the monastery was half demolished, while the east wing was heavily damaged. From 1958 to 1961 the south wing was restored while the oldest, east wing of the monastery was thoroughly repaired. Two additional floors were built on the bell tower in 1970, it was also further strengthened, and today it contains three bells.

Due to the small space the old church could not accommodate all the liturgical needs, especially during major holidays, so it was decided to build a new, more functional church. From 1987 to 1989 the new church of St Anthony was built, while the final works were completed in the spring of 2004. Regardless of the construction of the new church, renewal and protection of the old church, containing the main altar from 1725, also started. It was previously located in the Kaptol church of St Francis in Zagreb. The church was again given the original stone appearance as the plaster was removed from the facade. Restored old church was solemnly blessed in late August 2010. The main Baroque altar from 1725 was returned to its place after a thorough restoration. After a restoration, the oldest organ in Herzegovina from 1871 was also returned to the choir.