Frequent changes of borders

In medieval times the Diocese of Zagreb in the east and northeast bordered with the Diocese of Pecs, in the northwest with the Archdiocese of Salzburg, in the west with Patriarchate of Aquileia (Oglaj), in the south with the Diocese of Krbava and the Diocese of Knin, and in the southeast with the Diocese of Bosnia.

The territory of the diocese changed several times throughout history. At the time of the  establishment of the diocese its borders largely coincided with the borders of the banate of Slavonia, i.e. the part of Croatia between the rivers Drava, Sava and Gvozd which Ladislaus annexed to Hungary and gave to his nephew Almoš.

In the 14th century its territory in the north included Prekmurje (All Saints Parish, Oltarec, Banok, St. Lawrence, Čestreg and St. George) and Prekodravlje (Berzencze and Babócsa), in present-day Hungary. From Prekmurje the border went down south, over the River Drava, and along the Croatian Slovenian border on Sutla to the confluence of the River Sava. Its western border went around Gorjanci and down to Žubmerak, Metlika and Črnomelj.

The southern border, "consisted of a line drawn near Močilo at Kupa up to Budački near Korana, Slunj, which was not included, Cetina and Bužim Novi at Una, and then down to south to Dubica, Sana and Vrbas counties in northwestern Bosnia all the way up to the River Sava near Stara Gradiška, where Strug , Sloboština and Rasaski bordered the Diocese of Pecs down to Drava at Viljevo "(Šišić, Priručnik, Zagreb 1914, p 346).

The most remote parts of its territory were Petrovac and Smoljana at the foot of the mountain Grmeč, Rastik between Banja Luka and Jajce and Glaž "on the border of Usora" in central Bosnia, where in 1881 A.D. the Diocese of Banja Luka was established. In the 14th century territory around Metlika and Črnomelj was annexed to the Patriarchate of Aquielea.

The Diocese of Zagreb had its Cathedral Chapter of Zagreb ever since it was established. It later became the largest and most respected chapter in the former Habsburg Monarchy. In 1232 A.D. Holy Spirit Chapter in Čazma (1232 A.D. -1549 A.D) was established. When the Turks attacked (1549 A.D. - 1807 A.D.) the Chapter took shelter in Zagreb, then Lepoglava ( 1807 A.D. – 1811 A.D.) and Varaždin ( 1811 A.D. ). The head of Cathedral Chapter was the Provost of Zagreb, who was given the right to vote in the Hungarian Parliament in 1625 A.D., the title and income of ‘prior of Vrana, abbot of St. Margaret de Bela (1625 A.D. – 1740 A.D.) and title of secret imperial counsellor. A provost of Čazma, elected from the ranks of Zagreb canons, between 1232 A.D. and 1942 A.D., presided over Holy Spirit Chapter.

Even before 1287 A.D. Kaptol founded the College of Prebendaries which consisted of 12 priests. Chapters were institutions which dealt with church affairs and until 1848 were truly „authentic places“(loci credibiles) or institutions which guaranteed to private and public documents „public fidam“, and verified and archived all documents of political and national significance.  

Just like the Diocese of Zagreb and Cathedral Chapter, the cathedral school’s history goes a long way back. According to the Statutes from 1334 A.D., school was renovated and modernized by the blessed Augustin Kažotić, the bishop of Zagreb  (1303 -1322 ) who modelled it after practices of the Dominican sollemnia studies and universities in Italy and France, so apart from the studies of philosophy and theology he introduced the department of ‘liberal arts’ (artes liberales).

Cann.18 of the Third Lateran Council in 1179 A.D. stated that every cathedral had to have a teacher who would teach the poor students and clergy. The Diocese of Zagreb abode by that decision. The role of educators and teachers was taken on by canons particularly vigilant of poor students without income. Later on, bishop Juraj Drašković (1563 -1584) abiding by the conclusions of Council of Trent in 1576, renewed Zagreb’s seminary in Kaptol, bearing the official name "Seminarium venerabili Capituli Zagrabiensis or Alumnatus venerabilis Capitulo ".

Cathedral Chapter, also opened a Croatian college in Vienna, as  well as a Croatian Institute in Bologna , where the cadets of the Church of Zagreb had obtained  university degrees for centuries  until they were abolished by Emperor Joseph II in 1786.

In the 19th century theDiocese  of Zagreb had more than 450 parishes divided into 14 archdeaconries: Gora , Zagorje , Gušće , Svetačje , Cathedral Archdeaconry , Dubica, Komarnica, Gorica, Kalin, Vaška, Čazma, Bekšin , Vrbovec (de Urbocz ) and Varaždin , which is evident from the Statutes of the Cathedral Archdeanconry. In 1770 bishop John Paksi established the Archdeaconry of Turopolje by annexing all 48 parishes across the Sava River which belonged to the Cathedral Archdeaconry. Since then there have been 15 archdeaconries.

Provosts of Zagreb, up to and including Count Franjo Salis- Seewis (died in 1967 ), were also archdeacons of Gora and Zagorje, and Provosts of Čazma , up to and including Josip Volović ( died in 1942) they were archdeacons of Gušća and Svetačje . In terms of importance, the aforementioned provosts and dignitaries (columna) were followed by the cathedral archdeacon and other archdeacons.

The List of Parishes of the Diocese of Zagreb composed in 1334 A.D. is evidence of a flourishing religious and public life. It registered over 450 parishes. Also, the List of Priests of the Diocese of Zagreb composed in 1501 A.D. registered 818 priests and 459 parishes with an upward trend.

Territory of the Diocese of Zagreb was the smallest during Ottoman conquests, as bishop of Zagreb lost his jurisdiction over areas occupied by the Turks. The dividing line ran from Virovitica and Đurđevac over Čazma to Sisak and Karlovac . Entire archdeaconries were occupied: Gorski and Dubica (areas in present-day Bosnia), Gušće and Svetačje ( in present-day Slavonia) , and Vaškanski and Komarnica (Podravina and medieval Upper Slavonia between Ilova and Glovnica) and archdeconry of Čazma, as of 1552 .

The list of parishes of the Diocese of Zagreb at the Zagreb Synod of 1574 , convoked by Bishop Juraj Drašković, showed there were only 206  parishes in the diocese. After the defeat of the Turks at Vienna (1683 -1699), the territory of the Diocese of Zagreb increased in Slavonia because central Slavonia was not returned to the Diocese of Pecs but annexed to the Diocese of Zagreb in 1701, which had 261 parishes in 1771.

But with the end of the Turkish rule in Bosnia, the territory of western Bosnia called 'Turkish Croatia', which once belonged to the Diocese of Zagreb, was not returned since Pope Leo XIII decided in 1881 it would be annexed to the Diocese of Banja Luka.

In 1777 A.D. the Diocese of Zagreb again lost parts of its territory. Prekmurje was annexed to the newly established diocese of Sombatelj and Prekodravlje to the Diocese of Vesprim. Therefore in 1778 the Diocese of Zagreb had only 231 parishes, i.e. 30 less than six years earlier. 

In 1900 there were 348 parishes, 385 in 1944, and 407 in 1965. The number of parishes kept growing due to new urban and suburban areas. Although the Communist government tried to stop this and would not grant permits for construction of new churches, headquarters of many parishes were opened in private homes and apartments, especially at the time when Franjo Šeper and Franjo Kuharić were archbishops.

Archdiocese of Zagreb lost most of its territory between 1997 and 2010, not because the national borders changed or a war broke out, but for pastoral reasons, i.e. the establishment of the new dioceses in Požega, Varaždin, Bjelovar and Sisak.
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