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4 interesting stories about the patrons of Zadar

Discover interesting stories about Zadar saints. They are also the patrons of Zadar. The people of Zadar love them very much and reading about them and churches dedicated to them, maybe you will love them too.

Saint Zoilo

Sveti Zoilo Zadar

One of four Zadar saints, who is also patron of Zadar, is Saint Zoilo. He was a priest who lived penitently in the 3rd century in the swampy region of Aquileia. He was buried after death in church in Aquileia. After the invasion of the Huns and the destruction of that city in 452, Zoilo’s relics were transferred to Udine. The old chronicles of Boniface and Francis Grisogonus quote that in 649. the relics of St. Zoilo were transferred to Zadar. The body of St. Zoila was kept in two parts. In the marble sarcophagus in the coffin were the bones of a saint and in the silver reliquary the head with writings of the authenticity of the relic. Relics of St. Zoilo were laid to rest in the former church of St. Marija Velika near the Zadar market (popularly known as the Church of St. Roch), and in the 17th century they were moved to the cathedral. They were buried in the altar of the Zadar Cathedral on December 16, 1622, and from that year the feast of St. Zoilo began to celebrate on the day of the transfer of the saint’s body.

Kipovi u crkvi svetog Krsevana

Zoilo was the protector of the poor population of Zadar, who were called “varošani” because they lived in the center of the city within the ramparts. According to belief, St. Chrysogonus appeared to Zoilo in a dream and told him where to find his body that had been thrown into the sea. When Zoilo pulled him out, in a miraculous way the head of St. Chrysogonus merged with his body. Zoilo buried Chrysogonus body in his house, and later it was transferred to Aquileia, where it was kept until 452, when Aquileia was destroyed by the Huns. Picture of St. Zoilo on which he hold the martyred body of St. Krševan you can see in Permanent Exhibition of Church Art in Zadar’s Museum of silver and gold.

Saint Chrysogonus

Sveti Krševan

Chrysogonus was an Aquileian martyr who lived in the 4th century. According to legend, he was the religious teacher of St. Anastasia. During her time in prison, he encouraged with his letters. At the time of Diocletian’s exile, St. Chrysogonus pointed out his uncompromising faith in Jesus Christ. He was greatly committed to Christianity and persuaded to renounce his faith. In return, he was offered the position of prefect or consul of the Roman province. Chrysogonus refused because he did not want to deny his faith. So St. Chrysogonus was executed for his faith. He was beheaded and his body was thrown into the sea. Saint Chrysogonus is depicted as a figure of a knight in armor on horseback. He is shown on the coat of arms, seal and flag of the city, as well on monuments and buildings in Zadar: the Land Gate, the Sea Gate and the City Hall. In the previously mentioned old chronicles of Boniface and Francis Grisogonus, it is also stated that in 649 the relics of the martyr Krševan, together with the relics of St. Zoilo transferred to Zadar where a church was built in his honor.

Crkva svetog Krševana

Church of St. Chrysogonus is a male Benedictine monastery built in 1175. It is one of the most beautiful examples of monumental Romanesque architecture. Inside the church there are the remains of frescoes from the Romanesque period. Also in the sanctuary is a monumental main altar built in 1701. In 1717, were added to it white marble statues of all 4 patrons of the city of Zadar: Anastasia, Zoilo, Chrysogonus and Simon.


The church of St. Chrysogonus cannot be entered, it is closed to the public. The church had a monastery complex in front of it, which was demolished. If you would like to see the church from the inside as well as the demolished part, hear more interesting things about Zadar and all the saints mentioned so far I suggest you to click on the following link and book your Walking tour through Zadar with virtual reality: https://www.magic-croatia.hr/en/virtual-reality-tour-zadars-history/

Saint Anastasia

slika svete Stošije

According to legend, she was a Roman from a respectable family and she received the Christian faith from her mother. Marrying against her will for the Roman patrician Publius, she decided to remain a virgin. So her offended husband imprisoned her in a house dungeon and tortured her with hunger. After her husband’s death, she was released from house arrest and distributed her property to the poor. He shares his wealth with the poor. At her trial, she said she melted the gold and silver statues of pagan deities, which she inherited from her father, into money to help persecuted Christians. With a group of followers, she accompanied Chrysogonus until his martyrdom in Aquileia. Because of helping the detained Christians and persevering in her faith, she was detained and burned at the stake on December 25 in the year 304. Describing her martyrdom, one biography reads: “As the flames burned Anastasia’s body, she sang in ecstasy. The flame of love for Christ was stronger than the one that burned Anastasia’s body. ”

crkva svete stošije

Saint Anastasia was buried in Sirmium, and in the 5th century her relics were transferred to Constantinople via Rome. In 810, the Byzantine emperor Nicefor presented the power of St. Anastasia to the Zadar’s bishop Donat as a sign of gratitude and reward. Bishop Donat stored the relics in the then Basilica of St. Peter the Apostle. So the magnificent Zadar Cathedral, the largest monument in the Dalmatia, were named for St. Anastasia. The people of Zadar love their patron saint, which can be concluded from the established tradition of holding a Christmas tree in homes right up to the feast of St. Anastasia, which is on January 15th.


Bishop Donat began the reconstruction of the old Zadar early Christian cathedral in the 9th century. At the bottom of the north nave he built the chapel of St. Anastasia and placed in it a sarcophagus carved from grayish marble taken from the Roman forum on which the cathedral itself was built. The sarcophagus with the ash of St. Anastasia is located in the apse of the left cathedral nave. On the sarcophagus of St. Anastasia, there is an inscription dominated by the letter O in the shape of a noose and the letters E, D and P. The sarcophagus is of late antique shape with a lid, the translation of the inscription reads: “In the name of the Holy Trinity, the body of Blessed Saint Anastasia rests here. With the gifts of God and Saint Anastasia, bishop Donat the sinner was made this. Thank to God.”

Saint Simon


Saint Simon the God-receiver is the man mentioned in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 2:25) who welcomed Joseph and Mary in the Jerusalem temple and recognized the Messiah in the child Jesus. “There was a man named Simon in Jerusalem at that time. He was righteous and God-fearing … and the Holy Spirit was upon him. The Holy Spirit revealed to him that he would not see death until he saw the Lord’s anointed. Prompted by the Spirit, he came to the Temple just as the parents brought the child Jesus to to carry out what law prescribed. Then he took him in his arms and began to praise God. “Also, Simon foretold that Jesus would bring salvation to all nations, but also be a sign of challenge. He also gave a sad prophecy to Mary:” Your soul will also be pierced by the sword. “

Crkva svetog Šimuna

According to legend, the body of St. Simon came to Zadar in the second half of the 13th century when a merchant set out from the Holy Land for the northern Adriatic, carrying with him the remains of the saint. Near Zadar, a significant storm hit him and forced him to take refuge in the mythical port of Zadar. He sought hospitality in a convent, and buried the coffin with the body of the saint to hide and protect it. Soon, he fell ill and died, and the monks, on his instructions, examined his documents and discovered who it was in the buried coffin. In the work Folk’s Letter from 1903. It is stated: “But when they opened the tomb, everyone was amazed, but the Simon’s body was whole, undecomposed. A whole body, healthy and well, like it was made of stone, where rests wrapped in clothes, as if he had just been buried. “

Tijelo svetog Šimuna

Zadar Church of St. Simon is actually an upgraded old church of St. Stephen the First Martyr from the end of the 5th century. The church underwent a major alteration in the Baroque style and was renamed in Church of St. Simon. It was decided to place a gilded chest with the relic of St. Simon in that church which was previously kept in the church of St. Mary the Great and demolished in 1570. In folk tradition, it is believed that Saint Simon helps mothers and women who want male offspring.


Chest of St. Simon was made in 1381. and represents the brightest example of Croatian medieval goldsmithing. It is a gift from the Hungarian-Croatian queen Elizabeta Kotromanić, the wife of King Ludovic of Anjou. The Ark of St. Simon is a wooden chest with a gabled roof that is completely covered with embossed silver tiles that have been gilded. The chest weighs 355 kilograms because the cedar wood is covered with about 250 kilograms of filigree embossed silver and a lot of gold for gilding. In the church of St. Simon’s at the center altar two bronze angels are helding the chest. 1648. Francesco Cavrioli made bronze angels. They are cast from bronze of confiscated Turkish cannons and, in addition to their aesthetic value, they also have a symbolic value, alluding to the victory of Christianity in Islam in the ancient land of the Croats. Since 1632, when the chest of St. Simon found his peace in the church of St. Simon, this celebrated Zadar’s saint whose body can be seen on his feast day on October 8, protects the ancient and proud city of Zadar.

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