Luki, Guardian of Hvar's Treasures: St. Luke's Chapel

Published in About Animals

Luki and his two-legged pet parent Ivica love their native land deeply and unreservedly. In their three years together, Ivica has introduced Luki to many of the endless delights which Hvar has to offer. Culture, sacral sites and historical heritage feature large in their explorations.

Luki watching over St. Luke's Chapel Luki watching over St. Luke's Chapel Photo: Ivica Drinković

Luki has visited many of the little chapels and ancient ruins which are dotted around the island. The dotting isn't haphazard, each has a reason for being where it is.

'Carkvica'. Photo: Ivica Drinković

St. Luke is Luki's namesake. About 4 km east of Jelsa is a tiny Medieval chapel on the seaboard dedicated to St. Luke the Evangelist, which Luki and Ivica often visit to pay their respects. Known as "Carkvica" ('little chapel') in dialect, it is situated in a bay known as either Uvala "Carkvica" or Uvala Sv. Luke. From its construction it is thought to date from the 11th century CE, although it also contains some stylistic characteristics which might date from a later time. The altar is Baroque, and the statue of St. Luke the Evangelist dates from the 16th century.

The altar. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

The chapel measures just 7.2 by 4 metres, and has a single nave with a square apse at its east end, and the doorway at the west end. The facade is topped by a simple belfry for a single bell, but now empty. The building is reinforced by the later addition of three buttresses on its northern side which prevent it from collapsing, a real danger, given that it was built on very steep rocky ground, on the shore just one metre above sea level. The internal walls contain buttresses linked by arches which form shallow recesses and support the barrel vault. Extra support for the vault is provided by two flanges arising from the two central buttresses.

Graffiti defaced the internal walls. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

In its isolated position, the chapel suffered badly not only from dilapidation caused by the relentless battering of the damp salty winds and other weather effects, but also from vandalism. In 2006 Jelsa's Parish Priest Don Stanko Jerčić initiated a project to clean the building up and protect it from further devastation. On May 12th that year the Split office of the Croatian Ministry for Culture issued a Resolution placing the chapel under 'preventive protection'. Also in 2006, the first annual pilgrimage was organised to celebrate Mass at the chapel on the feast day of St. Luke the Evangelist, which falls on October 18th.

Interior with part of vault. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

In 2008 the then Dean of the Academy of Fine Arts, Slavomir Drinković, a native of Jelsa, announced that his Insititution was willing to act as patron for the renovation of the chapel. Students and teachers would carry out research, renovation and conservation work. The plan included the restoration of the statue of St. Luke; creating a new altar, candle holders, a chalice, and a new door; renovation of the belfry with a new bell; and restoration of the terrace in front of the chapel to be decorated with a large mosaic in the best tradition of votive illustration. Sadly, Slavomir Drinković died in December 2016, and the project has not been completed to date. Don Stanko is still pressing the authorities to bring the work to completion. Some essential works were done, mainly in 2011. Most importantly, the doorway was renovated, with new stone surrounds brought from the Jadrankamen stoneworks on Brač. They were shipped over by Božo Gamulin in his trusty beautiful wooden boat 'Đani', which has served for fishing as well as transport, and during the summer is well used for tourist trips, especially to Bol.

Božo Gamulin, with Đani and tourists in Bol. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

The local parishioners all gave their efforts freely. The building works were carried out by Pjero Grgičević and Jurko Bunčuga 'Ćugo', while the land around the chapel was made good by Marko 'Fanko'. In the course of the preliminary works, human remains were found by the south wall, an unpleasant surprise.

The new door, an invaluable gift. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

The door itself was a welcome donation from the National Academy of Art in Sofia, Bulgaria, by agreement with the Zagreb Academy of Fine Arts. Made of the prized hardwood Siberian larch with stained glass in the shape of a cross, it was designed by Professor Petar Bonev, Head of the Woodcarving Department, and Professor Nikolay Drachev, Dean of the Fine Arts Faculty. Organizing the donation and creating the door were apparently the easiest parts of the project. When the door was imported customs officials created numerous problems, giving both donors and recipients a lot of grief. As Don Stanko remarked drily, the bureaucrats had obviously not heard of the expression 'never look a gift horse in the mouth', when they wasted time and energy 'counting this gift horse's teeth'. It was with relief that the new door was installed in time for the Mass on St. Luke's feast day on October 18th 2011.

Don Stanko celebrating Mass at St. Luke's Chapel, 2013. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

The celebration of St. Luke's feast as an annual Mass was instituted in 2006. It is a charming event, held in front of the chapel with the congregation spread around the area. When the weather is bad, with high winds and rough seas, the chapel can't be reached. Most years, the weather is fine on October 18th, as it was in 2013, when a number of parishioners made the journey along the coast to celebrate St. Luke in the bright sunshine.

The path leading to the chapel. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Most people walked the last part of the route along the seashore path, which is flanked by the remains of an Antique Roman villa. The lucky few, such as the saint's namesake Luka Bunčuga, together with some of his family,  had the luxury of arriving by boat.

Luka and family arriving by boat. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

The congregation gathered happily around the chapel, enjoying the beautiful surroundings to the full on that lovely day.

Relaxing in peace before the Mass. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

In the absence of the new bell, a bell was brought in from Jelsa and rung by Božo Gamulin to herald the start of the Mass.

Božo Gamulin signalled the start of the Mass. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

After the Mass, many of the congregation went foraging for the edible wild plants and herbs which abound on Hvar in the places which aren't blighted by chemical pesticides and fertilizers.

Post-Mass foraging. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Then it was time for the majority to retrace their steps along the path to where their vehicles were parked, taking the bell with them for safe keeping.

Wending the way home. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Luki is generally tolerant of human shortcomings, but one thing he can't stand or understand is people's carelessness with rubbish. It is horrifying to come across illegal dumps when walking through what should be unspoilt natural countryside. 

Luki bewildered by a man-made mess. Photo: Ivica Drinković

Those of us who are on Luki's wave-length hope that the efforts to revive Hvar's hidden treasures will result in a widespread clean-up operation, and put an end to fly-tipping. A new approach is needed to persuade the environment wreckers that it is in their interests to dispose of all rubble and waste at the official designated sites. Illegal dumps should be cleared as soon as they appear, otherwise they generate ever-increasing amounts of rubbish.

Luki revels in Hvar's beauty. Photo: Ivica Drinković

Stop the reckless 'out of sight, out of mind' philosophy! Hvar is an exquisitely beautiful island, and it's up to all of us to keep it that way. Pristine sea and an unspoilt natural environment should be Hvar's realities, not just empty words.

© Vivian Grisogono, April 2020.

With special thanks to Jelsa's Parish Priest and Vicar General Don Stanko Jerčić for providing the information about the chapel's history, and to Ivica Drinković for allowing the use of his splendid photographs.

 

You are here: Home about animals Luki, Guardian of Hvar's Treasures: St. Luke's Chapel

Eco Environment News feeds

  • People and Planet’s annual sustainability league table finds patchy progress across sector

    More than half of universities are not on track to meet their emissions targets, according to an analysis.

    The student network People and Planet haspublished its annual sustainability university league, which found that 46% of higher education institutions were on course to meet the target, up from a third in 2019.

    Continue reading...

  • In the face of the impending climate catastrophe, there has been a growing clamour to repopulate the trillions of trees our planet has lost over the centuries. But large-scale tree planting is not helping, and in some cases it's creating more problems for the environment. Josh Toussaint-Strauss discusses how we've been getting tree planting wrong, and what we should be doing instead to safeguard precious ecosystems and reduce greenhouse gases

    Continue reading...

  • Climate change is happening, and businesses know it. So why don’t company reports show it?

    Last week, Shell walked away from 170 million barrels of oil off the coast of Shetland, declaring the “economic case for investment” too weak. As might be expected with such a politically sensitive venture, there has been much speculation about what other factors might have been at play, whether pressure from Nicola Sturgeon or from Whitehall. But let’s try another question: how did Shell ever decide that there was an economic case? After all, the energy giant does not deny that its entire business will have to change. It advertises its “target to become a net zero emissions” company by 2050, publishes a “sustainability report” and partners with environmental organisations around the world. Yet little of this environmental awareness shows up in the hard numbers.

    The company’s latest accounts features this disclaimer: “Shell’s operating plans, outlooks, budgets and pricing assumptions do not reflect our net zero emissions target.” In other words: whatever the oil giant says is not what it thinks.

    Continue reading...

  • As the sea claims more of the west African shoreline, those left homeless by floods are losing hope that the government will act

    Waves have taken the landscape John Afedzie knew so well. “The waters came closer in the last few months, but now they have destroyed parts of schools and homes. The waves have taken the whole of the village. One needs to use a boat to commute now because of the rising sea levels,” he says.

    Afedzie lives in Keta, one of Ghana’s coastal towns, where a month ago high tide brought seawater flooding into 1,027 houses, according to the government, leaving him among about 3,000 people made homeless overnight.

    Continue reading...

  • Wenlock Edge, Shropshire: This fallen giant, a victim of storm winds, is a gift to the soil and the curious walker

    The storm blew the old elm trunk down, a 15ft-high totem with the crumbling faces of the long dead looking westwards from the wood. The tree may have been more than 200 years old when it fell victim to Dutch elm disease in the 1970s, but it still sent out a hedgeful of suckers for the future, and its disintegrating trunk stayed upright until now.

    Once a prominent tree, marking some forgotten boundary, it becomes another anonymous windthrow sinking into the earth. The duff that rotted from its heartwood is rich and peaty. To see if there is anything in it, I dig about with a stick into what would have been the core of the tree and a place that had not seen the light of day for centuries. There is a bone. A rib, from a lamb or fawn, perhaps. I pick it up. It feels well-preserved, and there is something uncanny about the way it appears.

    Continue reading...

  • Outages hit Ireland and parts of UK after severe winds, rain and snow sweep in from Atlantic

    Almost 30,000 homes in Ireland and 500 properties in Scotland have been left without power after Storm Barra swept in from the Atlantic bringing severe winds, rain and snow.

    The latest outages came days after the final homes in Britain were reconnected after Storm Arwen, which caused “catastrophic damage” to electricity networks mainly in north-east Scotland, affecting 135,000 properties.

    Continue reading...

  • Scientists working on the Search For The Lost Fishes project have spotted the freshwater Batman River loach, which has not been seen since 1974

    A freshwater fish that scientists thought was extinct has been found in south-east Turkey, after an absence of nearly 50 years.

    “I’ve been researching this area for 12 years and this fish was always on my wishlist,” said Dr Cüneyt Kaya, associate professor at Recep Tayyip Erdoğan University. “It’s taken a long time. When I saw the distinctive bands on the fish, I felt so happy. It was a perfect moment.”

    Continue reading...

  • Harm included cell death and occurred at levels of plastic eaten by people via their food

    Microplastics cause damage to human cells in the laboratory at the levels known to be eaten by people via their food, a study has found.

    The harm included cell death and allergic reactions and the research is the first to show this happens at levels relevant to human exposure. However, the health impact to the human body is uncertain because it is not known how long microplastics remain in the body before being excreted.

    Continue reading...

  • Farmers and rural business owners call for stricter rules and enforcement

    Fly-tipping incidents in England increased last year, with household waste accounting for by far the biggest proportion of the problem, which has been worsened by the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

    From March 2020 to March 2021 in England, 1.13m fly-tipping incidents were dealt with by local authorities, an increase of 16% on the 980,000 reported in the previous year, according to data released by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on Wednesday. Higher numbers of incidents were reached in 2007-09, but the way the data is collated has changed, so direct comparisons with years before 2018 are not possible.

    Continue reading...

  • He became a household name in the 90s, then disappeared from view. But he never stopped protesting. Now the man known as the human mole is busier than ever

    Dan works in forestry. Clare is a school counsellor. Recently, they took their youngest son to a superhero film. Their middle son loves football. They miss their eldest, Rory, who left home a few months ago.

    The Hoopers are much like any other family with three children, or they would be if Dan did not have an unusual superpower. He is the best DIY digger of tunnels in the country. And for a quarter of a century he has burrowed passageways into the paths of new roads, runways and railways that destroy the countryside and add to spiralling carbon emissions and global heating. In this strange underland, Dan has another name: Swampy.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds