One of the most photographed and most visited places in Split are the Golden Gates of the Diocletian’s Palace along with the statue of Gregory of Nin or Grgur Ninski as locally called.
The story of Gregory is a typical one for Croatian history as we always quarreled among us preventing any prospect. He was a 10th-century bishop who opposed the Pope and introduced Croatian language in the religious services after the Great Assembly in 926. Before that, services were held only in Latin language as the official language of the Roman church, not being understandable to the majority of the population (and continued to be that way till the late 1960s!). This was quite important for Croatian language and culture but it also made the religion stronger within the Kingdom of Croatia.
Unfortunately, the Pope and the rest of Dalmatian bishops prevented this from happening by making a great pressure to king Tomislav and rest of the clergy isolating Gregory of Nin. He also lost entire influence and power as the complete rule of the church matters went to the hands of the archbishop of Split.
Today, there are three statues of Gregory of Nin in Croatia and all are done by famous Ivan Mestrovic. It is interesting that the first one was produced for Varazdin and that the last one put in place is the one in Nin. The statue in Split is the biggest one and it was erected on Peristil but removed by the Italian forces during WW2. It is one of the most photographed motifs in Split! The sculpture was made in 1929 to commemorate the 1000th year of use of Croatian language in religious services. It stands about 20 feet high.
You will also notice that the thumb on the foot of the statue is shiny. That comes from almost everyone rubbing it for good luck or fulfillment of some wishes.
What still puzzles me is that there is not a single piece of information on a sign of any sort, who this guy was! Unless you are bringing your guide book along, you will have no clue why who Gregory of Nin was!
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