, The Our Lady of Sinj route

Fra Pavao Vučković

Croatian national leader of the anti-Ottoman resistance, Roman Catholic priest (Duvanjsko polje, 18 October 1658 - Sinj, 7 January 1735).

Franciscan, polyglot, the main and ideological author of the future church and sanctuary of the Miraculous Lady of Sinj and the monastery, and its main spiritual guardian.

With its baptismal name Luke - he was educated in the Rama monastery, he finished the seminary in Italy. He spoke Croatian, Latin, Italian and Turkish. He worked in Rama (Bosnia and Herzegovina) from 1682-87, when he organized the escape of the Catholic regiment from Rama, Prozor, Bugojno, Duvno, Livno and surrounding places to the Cetina region, after the liberation of Sinj by the local defense military units and Venetians forces.

He took part in the battles with the Ottomans, who captured him (1698), after the Bosnian pasha Mustaj-pasha Daltaban broke into the Cetina region and devastated it. Then the pasha took friar Pavao with him to Baghdad to be his slave and servant, secretary and adviser. When Daltaban became Grand Vizier, he took Pavao to Constantinople, where he had learned to speak Turkish language fluently. After Daltaban was executed in the revolt (1703), friar Pavao took advantage of the moment and fled back to Italy on a Venetian galley.

Eventually he made a pilgrimage to Rome, where he stayed with the Pope at the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. He then acquired the title of ex-provincial, and in the same year, 1703, he finally returned back to Sinj, where the construction of a new church under the small fortress Kamičak continued, for which he prepared materials.

There are documents that friar Pavao was considered as a well-respected person by the Archbishops of Split - Cosmi, Cupilli and Loghi. He also took part in the miraculous defense of Sinj in August 1715; when it became known that the Ottomans would first attack the fortress of Sinj, in fear of returning to foreign rule and fear of revenge, part of the Franciscans went to Split, and friar Pavao himself, with six other friars, took a renowned picture of the Mother of Mercy from the new church, took refuge with it in the Sinj fortress and joined a squad of some 900 defenders.

During the eight-day siege, he placed the painting on the altar of St. Barbara in the fortress church of St. Michael, he prayed over it and encouraged its defenders. The Archbishop of Split Stjepan Cupilli tried to help. Therefore under the flag of the Cross he went to Sinj, but he could not go further than Dicmo. The only thing left for him to do, was to write to Pope Clement XI to pray for the salvation of Sinj and its fortress. Eventually, after a fierce hand-to-hand combat, the Ottomans gave up the siege, retreated and fled back across the Cetina to Livno in search of safety.

Friar Pavao died in the Franciscan monastery in Sinj in 1735, 20 years after the famous battle. He was buried in the crypt of the Church of Our Lady of Mercy, that is the Shrine of the Miraculous Lady of Sinj, which he built. Today, at the eastern part of the central entrance to the town of Sinj, there is a bronze statue of him, the work of the famous Croatian sculptor Kuzma Kovačić, erected in 2007.

Friar Pavao Vučković was known as the brightest figure in the second half of the 17th and the first half of the 18th century not only in the Cetina region, but also in Dalmatia and beyond. In peace he advocated for the national, religious and moral well-being of his countrymen and compatriots, and during the wartime he fought for two main values - faith and freedom.