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Archdiocese of Antivari

So called from its position opposite to Bari in Italy

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Antivari, the Archdiocese of (Antibarium), so called from its position opposite to Bari in Italy, the Catholic archiepiscopal see of Montenegro. By the treaty of Berlin (1879) this ancient seaport of Albania was adjudged to the little inland principality of the Black Mountain and shortly after (1886) the Catholic Archdiocese was declared immediately subject to the Holy See, and relieved of its suffragans Alessio, Pulati, Belgrade, and Sappa, henceforth attached to Scutari. The See of Antivari claims to date from the fifth century; it was certainly an episcopal see in the ninth and was refounded in the course of the twelfth century. In the early Middle Ages Antivari remained subject to the Greek emperors; later it became one of the numerous little Dalmatian republics that chose their own laws and rulers, and finally fell under the sway of the Serb kings. Towards the beginning of the thirteenth century it sought union with Venice, but fifty years later became subject to Lewis of Hungary, who lost it, in turn, to the Balza princes of Teuta, and with these it returned eventually to Venice (1450). For almost a century Antivari enjoyed the blessings of peace under Venetian dominion, and her commerce flourished to the highest degree, but in 1538, while Sultan Selim II was striving against the Venetians in Dalmatia, the pasha of Scutari besieged Antivari. After fierce combats he was forced to retire, but in 1571 through the treachery of its governor, Donato, the town fell into the hands of the Turks. The conditions of capitulation were honorable, but the Turks ceasing to respect them, one half of the citizens went into voluntary exile in order to preserve their faith, while the other half embraced Islam. John VIII, Archbishop of Antivari, who had vainly tried to make Donato offer resistance to the Turks, was taken prisoner and handed over to Ali-Pasha, commander of the fleet. Ali exhibited him everywhere dressed in his pontifical vestments and put him to death after the battle of Lepanto (October 7, 1571). In 1649 Foscolo, governor of Dalmatia for the Venetian Republic, was persuaded by the Archbishop of Antivari and a deputation of Christians to come to their aid. His movements were betrayed to the pasha of Scutari, who surprised his troops before they could reembark, and massacred a great number. Once more, in 1717, the Venetian governor of Dalmatia tried to deliver Antivari, but the attempt was again fruitless. At last, in 1878, Prince Nicola of Montenegro victoriously entered the ancient town and incorporated it with Montenegro. The city has a population of about 8,000, many of whom are Moslems. It is built on a lofty precipitous site and offers now few traces of its ancient grandeur; the streets are narrow, of a Turkish aspect, and the houses miserable. Nevertheless thirty monasteries, it is said, were once found within its walls. The old castle is a ruin, but the Cathedral of St. George, formerly transformed into a mosque, is well preserved. A few miles outside Antivari, near Cape Volinizza, is the Virgin’s Rock, theme of many a national poet, whence in the time of Sultan Selim (1524-73) a young girl threw herself into the sea rather than fall into the hands of the Turks. The population of Montenegro (1906) is about 300,000, with some 6,789 Catholics. There are 27 churches and chapels, 12 secular priests, and 9 religious. Until the close of the Russo-Turkish War (1878) the Catholics of Montenegro were subject to the Vicar-Apostolic of Bosnia and Herzegovina. A concordat between the Holy See and the Prince of Montenegro (August 18, 1886) now regulates the status of the Catholics in the principality. By its terms the exercise of the Catholic religion is declared free; the archbishop is chosen without interference of the state, but must be an acceptable choice (persona grata); the see is declared immediately subject to the Pope, and the archbishop is to receive the title of “Illustrissimo Monsignore” and to enjoy a yearly pension of 5,000 francs. The government also pledges itself to keep yearly at its expense one student in the Propaganda College at Rome, whence have come for a long time the secular priests of this territory. Moreover, at the request of the Prince of Montenegro, the right to the Old-Slavonic Liturgy was confirmed by the Holy See (originally conceded by Innocent IV, in 1248, and renewed by Benedict XIV and Pius VI). It is in reality the Roman Liturgy translated into Old-Slavonic, and in this shape is in use among eighty or a hundred thousand Catholic Slays of Trieste, Gorz, Spalato, Sebenico, and other Dalmatian centers. Until lately it was printed in the Cyrillic alphabet, but since 1890, at the request of the archbishop, the Holy See has permitted the use of the Glagolitic alphabet, to avoid similarity of usage with their schismatic neighbors. (See Saints Cyril and Methodius.) A copy of the new missal, printed at the Propaganda press in Rome (Ordo et Canon Missle Slavice, 1887) was presented by Leo XIII in 1893 to the Prince of Montenegro. By a decree of the Congregation of the Consistory (March 7, 1902) Antivari is declared the primatial see of Dalmatia, an honor which it enjoyed as early as the twelfth century. The present bishop is Monsignor Simon Milinovic, a Franciscan, elected October 8, 1886.


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