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Sveti Petar u Šumi 
Ora et labora

The village of Sveti Petar u Šumi, presently holding the status of Municipality, was named after the Benedictine monastery mentioned in Latin documents under the name Monasterium Sancti Petri in Sylvis – the Monastery of Saint Peter in the Woods. The Monastery was first recorded in documents in 1174 but the record is accompanied by the annotation saying that the Monastery had stood there for 50 years. It is quite certain that the Monastery existed even before 1134. The legend says that the Hungarian King Solomon spent some time at Sveti Petar u Šumi after losing the throne in dynastic fights.  Later he moved on to the Monastery of Saint Michael in Pula where he died in 1089.

Only one book from the Monastery library remained preserved. It is a Latin manuscript written in Caroline script towards the end of the  11th or beginning of the 12th century. A fragment inscribed with Cyrillic and Glagolitic letters dates back into the same period – proving that the Benedictine monks at Sveti Petar used all three local alphabets. The Benedictines were the first Western European monks, they contributed greatly to the restoration of economy and cultural activities,
providing for both body and soul in accordance with the motto they strictly adhered to: Pray and work! Ora et labora!

Unlike other Istrian villages and towns, which were formed on hills having the church on top and houses set along the church and the edges of the hill, at Sveti Petar there were no houses around the church or the monastery in order to ensure serenity and composure of the monks. The inhabitants of Sveti Petar lived in nearby villages working their fields and vineyards. Overlooking the Draga Valley there stood until the 15th century a fortified castle, mentioned in the monuments as Ad Vicinatum (maybe today's Vižinada). Nothing remains of the castle except for the place name Sveti Toma (Saint Thomas) after a church that also no longer exists.

The white monks

When the interest in the Benedictine Order was lost, Emperor Frederick III consigned the Monastery to the Paulines who already had another monastery in Istria, on the island in the Lake of Čepić. The Paulines continued the cultural, economical and social activities of their predecessors and restored the monastery. The cloister (the covered space around the cistern) was modelled in a very particular way: new Renaissance columns were placed on the ground while the older Romanesque columns with arcades were moved to the first floor, thus shaping a corridor on both floors. The church was later restored in Gothic style. During the tragic Uskok War the Monastery was burnt down and destroyed in 1616. The restoration began in the middle of the 17th century and gave a wholly new appearance to the monastery and the church. The Church of St. Peter and St. Paul thus shares the appearance with the churches of Hrvatsko zagorje (Lepoglava, Remete) in northern Croatia or Austria. The paintings are by the painter Leopold Keckheisen, sculptures in the church and on the façade by Pavao Riedl, both Pauline lay brethren, who decorated the church in the most beautiful way.


Pauline painter made a copy of the well-known painting of Madonna of Czestochowa, Protector of Poland, which was, according to a pious legend, painted by St. Luke the Evangelist. At Christmas 1721 the painting shed tears for a week, which attracted a great number of people, first those curious and then so many pilgrims that the square in front of the church had to be extended. Lateral walls of the two chapels were lined with leather wallcovering in the 18th century.

When Emperor Joseph II suppressed many church orders in 1783 throughout the Austrian countries, he also suppressed the Pauline Order on the pretence that the Paulines were not involved in charitable and educational work (which was not true!). The order was implemented in Croatia in 1786 and the monks had to abandon their monastery which became state property. Fortunately, the Pauline church acquired the status of parish church and preserved its beauty till the present day. The Paulines returned after many years and took over the parish in 1993. Today they are involved in the spiritual life of the inhabitants of Sveti Petar u Šumi. The old parish church of St. Rochus became the cemetery church.

Born in Sv. Petar u šumi
Sveti Petar u Šumi is the birth place of the eminent Bishop of Zagreb, Šimun Bratulić (1550-1613), General of the Pauline Order, zealous in fight against the Turks and the heretics. He assisted in the arrival of the Jesuits to Zagreb and the opening of their grammar school (1606) and library. The library is the foundation of the today's National and University Library in Zagreb.
In the 19th century Josip Bratulić recorded some folk songs which were published in 1843 in the magazine Kolo edited by Stanko Vraz in Zagreb. During his education, Bratulić became friends with Anto Starčević, Croatian politician and writer who founded the renowned Croatian Party of Rights.

Liberat Sloković, the parish priest for almost half a century, has greatly indebted his parish and his faithful parishioners.

Another renowned man from Sveti Petar is Josip Turčinović, theologian, university professor, founder and manager of Kršćanska sadašnjost, a deserving cultural worker. His portrait in bronze, work of the sculptor Ante Starčević, stands in front of the parish church (at the Plac). His was buried at the local graveyard and his headstone – narrow gate leading into the Kingdom of Heaven – is the work of Branko Fučić, another deserving culturologist and scientist.

Map of sv. Petar u Šumi

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Sv. Petar u Šumi
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Turistička zajednica središnje Istre (Tourist Board of Central Istria)
Franine i Jurine 14, 52000 Pazin,Croatia
tel. ++385(0)52 622 460, fax ++385(0)52 616 886

Community Sveti Petar u Šumi official pages:

Text:  Josip Bratulić, edited by Radenko Sloković 2009, Photos: R. Sloković (3), E. Svilar (1), Archive of Community Sv. Petar u Šumi (1)

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