May 7, 2020 – The City of Split traditionally celebrates its patron saint, Sv. Duje, on May 7.
Split City Day is here, when the citizens honor and celebrate Split’s protector – Sv. Duje.
But who is Sv. Duje, anyway?
Also known as Saint Domnius, Saint Dujam, Saint Duje, Saint Domnio, Saint Doimus, or Saint Domninus, our Sv. Duje was born in today’s Syria and was an early Christian bishop of the Roman city of Salona, the capital of the Roman province Dalmatia. Emperor Diocletian ordered Duje’s arrest in AD304, and he was executed along with other martyrs in Salona’s amphitheater. Buried outside of the city walls, his grave became a place of worship.
While one might find it ironic that our Duje is the protector of the town founded by the emperor who executed him, it is perhaps even more peculiar that Emperor Diocletian’s mausoleum was converted into the Sv. Duje Cathedral, which is regarded as the oldest Catholic cathedral in the world that remains in use in its original structure.
The Sv. Duje Cathedral stands proud in the heart of the Old Town, and it only makes sense that the City Day celebrations begin here, where the Croatian flag is raised on top of the cathedral’s bell tower.
Religious or not, this act highlights the bond Split citizens share with Sv. Duje, as it represents an identification with the city’s heritage.
Split’s City Day celebration is usually a grand affair named ‘Sudamja’, which gathers thousands of Split citizens in the city center on May 7. From fairs to concerts, fireworks to bingo, folklore dances to exhibitions and regattas – Sv. Duje is the celebration of all celebrations in this ancient Croatian city.
However, the highlight is the centuries-old procession, held on the morning of May 7. While Sv. Duje’s relics were once carried around the entire old town, today, the procession begins at Peristyle in front of the Cathedral and continues to the Riva, where Holy Mass is held.
This year, however, as the world is rattled by the corona crisis, a more modest Sv. Duje celebration awaits. While no gatherings of large groups are allowed, and we are still adhering to strict measures by the National Civil Protection Headquarters, this year, Sudamja is coming to our homes.
“The traditional festival on the occasion of the feast of Sv. Duje has for years awakened in us a spirit of togetherness and belonging. Guided by the message of the #TogetherInSplit campaign, together, many got involved in creating projects to give their fellow citizens a different celebration of City Day.
At 10 am on HRT, you can follow the Holy Mass from the Sv. Duje Cathedral, and in the afternoon, at 6:20 pm, enjoy the recording of the Petar Grašo concert in the empty Peristyle, which brings a touch of optimism, light and celebration, organized by the City of Split, the Split Tourist Board with partners Dalmatian Concert and OTP Bank.
The Sv. Duje balcony party has been organized by Fabrique pub with partners Apodos agency, photo studio Smile and the Split Tourist Board. From 5 pm to 8 pm, the moving stage will tour the neighborhoods of Split where Marko Pecotić Peco and his band will sing Dalmatian hits. Go out to your windows and balconies and send a video message of unity to the world on our City Day.
The Split City Museum, Croatian National Theater Split, KUD Jedinstvo, Music Youth of Split, Ethnographic Museum, Center for Culture and Lifelong Education Zlatna Vrata, Collegium Split through history and many others have also joined in on the virtual fun, and dedicated their publications to the importance of tradition to preserve the unity and identity of one city,” says the Split Tourist Board.
Happy Sv. Duje to all!
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