I spent last week in Zadar, Croatia, for an academic conference. But the timing of flights meant that I had a free day to explore the city on either side of the conference. (Yay!) When the trip was first planned, I knew I would spend my days exploring the various churches, monasteries, and convents. Unfortunately, a broken (but healing!) ankle slowed me down a bit so I wasn’t able to see everything I wanted to see. Still, I managed most of the highlights. (But there was no climbing up bell towers, sadly.)
My soul is always calmed when I visit religious and spiritual sites. But when it’s a Catholic church, there is a special warmth that joins the calm. Not because I think that Catholicism is better than other religions (it isn’t; no one religion is better than another), but rather it’s because, as a practising and cultural Catholic, I feel at home when I walk across the threshold.
I feel a sense of closeness when I dip my fingers in the Holy Water font before making the sign of the cross. I feel a sense of belonging when I genuflect at the altar. I feel a sense of understanding when I study the design of the Stations of the Cross. And I feel a sense of comfort when I speak with the ordained when I’m wandering around a church.
It’s what I know. It’s what I understand. It’s my spiritual home.
And so, I couldn’t help but explore the ancient religious buildings of Zadar. Some of the highlights included the Benedictine Convent of St Mary’s and the Museum of Religious Art housed there, the Church of St Donatus (a 9th-century church built upon the ruins of the old Roman Forum), St Anastasia’s Cathedral, and St Francis’ Church and Monastery. But I also enjoyed the smaller, non-touristy churches such as the Church of Our Lady of Health and the St Andrew’s and St Peter’s the Elders’ Church, which now houses a ceramics gallery and shop.
I won’t bore you with the history and my own personal spiritual experiences with each church though. Instead, I’ll just share the photos now. Lots of them. (This is why I’ve done three Zadarian posts!)