For more than 20 years a week when Split celebrates Saint Domnio (or Domnius), its patron saint, starts with the raising of Croatian flag on top of the cathedral's bell tower. Same happened this year, two, on a day when I'm writing this blog, and once again Split climber Ivica Matković was the one who had the honour to do it. Only, this time he did it with a cast on his broken arm.
This small detail says it all about affection Split and Splićani (local name for citizens of Split) feels about their protector. That particular bond is strong even among those who don't consider themself religious, because iz represent an identification with the city's heritage.
These days are really special in the city calendar, just as the whole May is special and magical in Split as an opening of the summer season.
There will be a wide array of events these days everywhere around Split, from concerts to fairs, exhibitions, folklore performances, meal giveaways, etc. It's understandable, because Sudamja (pron. Soodamyah), as this holiday's been called in Split since forever, is indeed more than a religious event, a true people's fest. To find out what is going on, just follow Tourist Board Split Facebook page and a calendar on our web site. Still, the central point is a centuries-old procession on May 7. In the past, it went around the whole old town, with bishop carrying Domnio's relics. Today, it starts at Peristil square in front of the cathedral, and goes to Riva, where Holy Mass is held.
Who really is Saint Domnio, and what does he mean in Split's history? He was born in today's Syria, and during the Diocletian's bloody anti-Christian spree became a bishop in Salona, a capital of the Roman province Dalmatia. Those were the years of building of Diocletian's Palace on the nearby peninsula which will later become Split. An emperor Diocletian himself ordered Domnio's arrest in AD304. According to a legend, when bishop revived a death man in front of the imperial officer Marcus Aurelius Iunius, he was executed along with other martyrs in the Salona's amphitheatre, and burried outside of the city walls. His grave soon became a place of worship, even with a Diocletian living practically next door after he retired into a newly built Palace. It probably seemed to emperor that everything will remain like that for a thousand years, but history went other direction. In 7th century Domnio's remains were transferred to Split, and former mausoleum of the emperor who got him killed was turned into a cathedral.
Indeed, history can be ironic sometime. It's just the same ironic that today's Split draws its identity from the heritage of two mortal enemies, Diocletian and Domnio. The first of them experienced fate he meant for the other one, and today we even don't know where is his grave. On the one side, if there wasn't Diocletian most probably there wouldn't be Split either. On the other, if there was no Domnio's worshipping, Split probably wouldn't be as the one we know.