23:15:07 19.03.2018

Cause for this article can be found in claim, made by authors of the luxurious touristic monograph for Ravno municipality (2018), that small cross-shaped tombstone located near the entrance of the church in Zaplanik, damaged in the previous civil war, became object of falsification by Serbs from Trebinje forest through addition of foreign fragment with incised letters of Serbian Cyrillic. Without that claim, this article wouldn’t exist.

EAST SIDE OF THE CROSS: View of the cross from the direction of Petrovica. This side of the inscription in Ravno monograph is depicted as “Croatian Cyrillic”.


VIEW TOWARDS PETROVICA: Croatian authors claim for this side of the inscription that it was subsequently inscribed by the Serbs. Cross, also known as Jeremija’s cross, is located in the part of the cemetery where members of the Orthodox family of Pupić are buried.

 Drawing by Milan Putica. Cross bears the inscription: Servant of God, Jeremija, presented himself

I will begin this article by document made in chancellery of the Dubrovnik Republic, created in 1413. Document is in actuality a letter from Dubrovnik Republic addressed to the famous and great knyaz Pavle, who ruled from city of Borač. Subject of the letter relates to the damaged caused to the Republic by one of knyaz Pavle nobles, Radosav Branković from Začula. Dubrovnik claims this person, originating from territory of knyaz Pavle, more precisely from village of Začula, damaged the village of Osojnik, belonging to Dubrovnik. Protest, as can be seen from the letter, was forwarded to zhupan of knyaz Pavle as well. (1)

This is a historical reminder of Trebinje territorial extent during period of strong Serbian local lords. As we can see, Začula was within territory of Trebinje during this time.

By Deyton Peace Accord, municipality of Trebinje lost one third of its territory, thus becoming a victim of the peace conference. From its original territory, Trebinje lost the karst lands of Trebinje Plain, Forest, Boban and Popovo. This Trebinje karst is of invaluable importance for Serbian national history. It could be said it represents the corner stone of the national historical and cultural-religious institutions of Serbs in Zachlumia. Harmful consequences stemming from separation of this area can be seen in monograph publication “Municipality of Ravno touristic monograph”, which was recently published. (2)


Group of authors responsible for the monograph, while commenting on the gravestones found near the entrance of the St. Apostles Petar and Pavle church in Zaplanik (Šuma), claim that the original monument, damaged during combat operations, held inscribed letters belonging to the so-called Croatian Cyrillic writing, but that later on, a new fragment with Serbian Cyrillic letters was added to the cross. In this way, authors of the monograph suggest, a forgery of the monument was created so that it could then be, thanks to this falsified fragment, added to the Serbian cultural heritage of Šuma. (3)

Authors, furthermore, faced with numerous medieval tombstone monuments in cemeteries of villages from Šuma and Boban, included a text about stećci within the monograph. Monograph also implies Croatian ethnic origin of Stipak mentioned on the tombstone from the XIV century, found in Veličani (4) and belonging to a nun Polihronija, noblewoman from Serbian Orthodox family of Sanković-Bogopanković who, within documents they left behind, clearly indicated their patron saint day celebration, a custom unique to the Serbian people.   

She was married into the noble family of Čihorići (Drugovići). Princess Gojsava, from family of Balšići (first wife of Radič Sanković), was married into her family. This is a good moment to mention a recent discovery of a slab-shaped stećak from XIV century, found in inner Serbia and decorated with ikavian inscription (2017). Monograph of Ravno municipality generally denies affiliation of stećci monuments with the Greeks (that is with Greek, Eastern, Jerusalem, Constantinople church) by interpreting the term “greek” as a result of stećci great age.(5)  


The intent is to impress upon the reader of the monograph that even folklore suggested their age in accordance with the saying:”old as Greece”. It is impossible to encounter this kind of explanation within complete literature dealing with stećci monuments from central Balkans. Serbian name linked with Šuma and Popovo is completely removed by the authors. On the same page where authors explain the adjective “Greek” they also mention division of Red Croats on Popovci and Latini in the moment of Ottoman incursions. Regarding the topic of ktetorship of queen Jelena, mother of king Dragutin and king Milutin, authors were unable to ascertain location of Catholic churches that Nemanjići, according to authors, supposedly destroyed. (6)     

I would like to remind the authors about the gift charter of the Holy king Stefan Milutin II Nemanjić to the Catholic monastery of Holy Mother of God at Ratc, near Bar (document can be found today in Venetian archive). Those called upon to witness this document were both Catholic and Orthodox archbishops from Bar and Kotor, as can be seen from the charter itself. Nemanjići were not destroyers, but, under certain circumstances, we can assume a passive or abandoned episcopate was overtaken. We believe that contemporary Croatian authors, who nitpick through antiquities of regions such as Travunia (contemporary Trebinje) would benefit from more restraint. Should we return to works of Krunoslav Draganović? Should we mention the work “Innocent III and the Serbs”? If we really have an opportunity to evoke achievements of Croatian historiography from the first half of the XX century, we would surely find “Napretkov zbornik” from 1942, one of its authors being K. Draganović, and within we could discover official plan of ustashe Independent State of Croats for seizure of complete Bosnia and Herzegovina. This wouldn’t draw any attention if not for a fact that even today we can find authorities of Franciscan order who, within their writings, reject any kind of Orthodox church organization presence in medieval Zachlumia (fra Andjelko Barun), despite historical evidence to the contrary.


Going deeper into the past, we can see that majority of theological-belletristic works of Catholic missionaries from XVII century, in one way or the other, touch upon or mention the Serbian dynasty. Each and every one of them worked to abolish the oldest religious-political achievement gained in 1219. – the autocephaly of the Serbian Orthodox Church, gifted by Byzantium. They all tried to bring into question the authority of Holy Peć Patriarchy, heir to the ancient Ras episcopate. Thought not in form of its official policy, after Tridentinum, Roman curia used its local structures to, by most accessible means, promote the thesis of insignificance regarding the act of Nicaea, thus degrading the status of the Serbian Orthodox church to the level of archiepiscopate from a time when the Serbian church was subordinate to the jurisdiction of Ohrid. This can be partially seen in works which can be closely, although not completely, described as theological-belletristic works of Catholic missionaries from the first half of the XVII century. Today we have the situation where graveyard of the biggest Serbian Orthodox ktetor family, in Radimlje (even that!), is proclaimed as Croatian.

Members of this family built Orthodox monastery of Žitomislić and numerous churches in Neretva river valley. As far as I know, and I claim this on the basis of direct insight, in lands where Croats live today, tombstones bear exclusively Latin script? If there is intent to burden Serbs from Šuma for falsifying inscription on the cross of the servant of God Jeremija, at Zaplanik, in shade of St. Apostles Petar and Pavle church, I will be completely clear. I therefore ask, how old are the tombstones inscribed with Latin script on territories of Čitluk, Čapljina, Popovo and Grude? I ask about clearly dated tombstones?


This work by group of authors states that St. Vasilije of Ostrog was an ecumenist(7). I will say more on this subject, but first, I have to express my deep disappointment regarding the choice and arrangement of photographs found on the pages 176 and 177. The photography of page 177 shows a contemporary monument to the Croatian solider, while photography on the previous page depicts children from Šćenica. There is no need for special comment on this. Photography is dated back to the 1965. I would like to remind the reader about destruction of the gravestone monument of Katalina in village of Vranje. Monument was composed out of three individual monuments inscribed with Cyrillic letters, dating back to the medieval period. The woman in question was princess from the house of Kotromanići.

This marriage is reminiscent of an earlier marriage link between Nemanjići-Mirosavljevići and Kotromanići. Only two fragments, relocated to the newly formed church museum in Neum remain from this monument, remain from this monument, with additional one found in and recorded in the cemetery itself.  Newer part of the cemetery in village of Vranje belongs to the family of Nikolići, descendants of great zachlumian knyaz Miroslav Nemanjić. Those wishing to know more can read fundamental work of father Lazar Mirković on Miroslav Gospel and understand on what and whose template was this famous book written.       



A great civilization and all-Christian contribution was done by emphasis and respect of the extraterritoriality principle. Policies come and go, peoples move and state borders as well. Mount Athos is one of places resting on this principle. A Dubrovnik church, Catholic for sure, was hidden in Belgrade for long time. In Novi, there was a church of St. Vlah. For us in the Republic of Srpska, and especially in Eastern Herzegovina, Serbian holy places in Šuma and Površi, Boban and Popov, are no less in value.

If somebody thought in Dayton, and I believe there was such a person, that there would only be exchange of karst, it showed complete ignorance of the topography and cultural and historical maps of the Serbian lands. Within karst of the Šuma, there are churches even older than those of Nemanjići. This area is a zone of highest value for Serbian national and church history. The first churches here were built on pre-Christian grave piles. The first cross planted in this land was placed between the stećci monuments. When Croatian writers reach for territory and point their finger towards first church in Zaplanica, then it would be appropriate to present the dated Croatian monuments to support their assumptions.

I have no intention to investigate the works and intents of the saints from the Roman Catholic Church in the manner done by professor Janko Šimrak in between two world wars. Personally, I believe in possibility for cooperation between peoples and churches. Croatian people possess monuments which represent valuable addition to the history of the Balkan (for example: group of old Croatian documents from the X century). I would therefore point out, once again, the content of the general assembly of the areas of Popovo and Zažablje at the very dawn of XVII century, held in Ravno. Photography of the event is provided by the authors of this publication. Back then, all stood as one.     

AUTHOR: Goran Komar

TRANSLATE: Ljubisa Malenica

[1] Medo Pucić, Serbian monuments, Tome I,  Belgrade, 2007, 117-118, no. 217 
Codex of Serbian scribe, Rusko Hristoforović, from Dubrovnik of the XIV-XV century is being prepared for publication
(complete codex with photographs and transliteration) in edition of Knez Miroslav Humski Foundation from Trebinje
[2] Domagoj Vidović, Stanislav Vukorep, Vesna Slobođan, The untold story. Touristic monography of Ravno municipality, 2018
[3] D. Vidović, S. Vukorep, V. Slobođan, The untold story…, 199
[4] D. Vidović, S. Vukorep, V. Slobođan, The untold story …, 34
[5] D. Vidović, S. Vukorep, V. Slobođan, The untold story …, 22
[6] D. Vidović, S. Vukorep, V. Slobođan, The untold story …, 72
[7] D. Vidović, S. Vukorep, V. Slobođan, The untold story …, 135