The belfry of the Cathedral of Sveti Duje is the tallest structure in the old town of Split, Source: Depositphotos

Sveti Duje: Split celebrates its feast day

Sveti Duje: Split celebrates its feast day

For English speakers that would be Saint Domnius, the patron saint of the Dalmatian capital

Every year on 7 May, the Croatian city of Split celebrates its feast day honouring the memory of Saint Domnius, an early Christian martyr who was also a bishop of nearby Salona (Solin) in the 3rd-4th century.

The local residents, however, call Saint Domnius – Sveti Duje (Doo-yeh) – and the feast celebration is known as Sudamja. The entire festive period actually lasts the week preceding 7 May and consists of a rich programme, with religious processions, cultural, entertainment and sports events taking place for the public to enjoy.

The traditional fair in the Riva promenade is probably the most popular event, where people usually buy wooden toys called klepetalo for their kids and a new batch of wooden stirring spoons.

Who was Saint Domnius?

Although sometimes regarded as one of the original 70 Disciples that spread Christianity to all corners of the Roman Empire after the Ascension of Jesus, historians claim that St. Domnius actually lived in the 3rd century and hailed from Antioch. He became the first bishop of Salona and was beheaded in 304 during the Christian persecutions of Emperor Diocletian thus earning his martyr status.

His relics are kept in the Cathedral of Saint Domnius in Split, which is considered to be possibly the second-oldest cathedral in the world in terms of the original age of the structure. The original building, however, began as the Mausoleum of Diocletian, the very same emperor who was responsible for Sveti Duje’s death.

It was during the 7th century when the Mausoleum was turned into a cathedral with the moving of the saint’s relics there. Celebrating his legacy as a feast probably dates back to the Middle Ages.

Even though Saint Domnius actually died on 10 April, the feast and celebrations take place in May, so it doesn’t overlap with Easter. 



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