Saint Domnius: Split’s Famous Seaside Patron Saint

History of Saint Domnius

Saint Domnius is the patron saint of Split and the cities major festival day. Sveti Duje (pronounced sve tea du-yeah) is the unofficial celebration that welcomes in the warm weather, season of swimming, flamboyant produce and renowned cultural events that emerge along the Adriatic Coast.

It is believed that the patron saint of Split was guided by Saint Peter to evangelize Dalmatia. In the early first century, the emperor Diocletian was opposed to Christianity (history deems he wasn’t the nicest of rulers) and demanded Domnius to be put to death. Diocletian’s attempts failed and today there are signs of Domnius all over Splits famous palace, his remains rest securely in Diocletian’s vault in the St. Domnius Cathedral located in the heart of the city; as the saying goes revenge can be oh so sweet.

St Domnius Cathedral

St Domnius Cathedral (credits: Malina Bicvic)

Traditional Procession

The festival is marked with the traditional procession from the Saint Domnius Cathedral in the morning and flows through the city ending on the promenade Riva. This experience will make any traveller get a sense for the Mediterranean culture and feel like a seasoned European. The spirit of Split comes alive as thousands gather on the Riva and around the old town to attend the holy mass dedicated to their patron saint.

Flag of St.Domnius

Flag of St.Domnius (credits: Malina Bicvic)

Let the fun begin…

As the clock strikes passed noon and marks the end of mass, church bells chime to kick off the festivities. The city is full of children, grown-ups, artisans, sightseers and the scent of traditional Dalmatian cuisine overtakes the town. Traditional spiza (food) is served of tasty fava beans and a stew of hearty meats at the pivotal Split fish market.

The length of the Riva is decorated with unique craft stalls, traditional candy, wooden souvenirs, indigenous arts and gourmet delights, a carnival enthusiast’s dream where there is something for everyone. Every 10 steps you can hear young festivalgoers calling out ‘tombula’, ‘tombula’, as tickets are sold, for the well-known time-honored lottery type game that offers the chance of winning money in the open-air evening event.

(credits: Malina)

A palette of festival joy (credits: Malina Bicvic)

Tombula, fireworks, music…

As evening dawns on the city of Split the ‘tombula’ begins, thousands of players eagerly circle their numbers in hope and many call out to St. Domnius asking for his blessing to win the money-prize. The Riva is at a buzz as the night program is set to take, fireworks paint the skies and the traditional evening concert gets everyone on their feet where legendary Dalmatian musicians please the crowd with there wine sipping, hip shaking music into the late hours.

All in all ask any local what their favorite festival is in Split and all will swiftly respond “nas Sveti Duje” – our St.Domnius, some will even sing “Oh, holy Duje, You take care of my people, Oh my beautiful, Split”.

So what are your travel plans May 7th 2015?




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