Franciscan Church: Behind A Plain Wall in Dubrovnik

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Franciscan Church, Franjevačka crkva, Dubrovnik, Croatia

Near the beginning of the Stradun by the Pile Gate, there is a large, plain stretch of building, punctuated by two doors: one has a fairly standard and classical portal – but the other is somewhat more special.

This unprepossessing building is actually the church of the Franciscans, whose monastery is just behind.  The original church was destroyed by the earthquake of 1667 – but there was one survivor: the portal showing the Pieta, flanked by St Jerome and St John the Baptist.  And God standing on top.  This was the work of the brothers Leonard and Petar Petroviċ, dating from 1498, and it is just lovely – if you look at Mary’s face, you can see that it is distorted by pain.

The interior of the church is not what you’d expect from the outside.  It’s a baroque work, and the main altar, with its twisting marble columns, look very Italianate – but sort of toned down.

Now, I loved this Monty Pythonesque image of a dismembered arm holding out a cross from the pulpit.  Then I also saw one in Cavtat’s Our Lady of the Snow, which I then discovered was attached to a Franciscan monastery too.  So.  I got to thinking this must be a Franciscan tradition, and according to these guys – – it is indeed often found in Franciscan churches, where the preaching often focussed on the devotion to the Cross and the Passion.

So now we know.

Now, I have no idea who this was by, but I really, really liked this amazing Crucifixion in an altar towards the back of the church.  There is something about Jesus’ face which is very striking – he looks tired, and very peaceful.  One purpose of such an image is to encourage meditation and devotion, and the subtlety of this sculpture encourages the onlooker to think deeply about what it represents.  This work alone made the visit worthwhile.

So In Summary

This being the first church in Dubrovnik I visited, I am quite attached to it.  It’s quite different from the others in the city that I saw, but it shared the same characteristics of relative simplicity, highlighted by flashes of fanciness – and genuine beauty.

Further Information

Unlike many churches, the Franciscan church seems to be open most of the time.

How To Get There

This map is quite helpful to help navigate yourself there, it’s no. 6:



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