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  • The Croatian Missal, 1531, National and University Library in Zagreb, Manuscripts and Old Books Collection, RIIA_8°-8


The Croatian Missal (Misal hruacki) was the most visually attractive and comprehensive work of the printing house in Rijeka, which was managed by the Bishop of Modruš Šimun Kožičić Benja (c. 1460-1536). After Modruš fell under Turkish control, the bishop retreated first to Novi Vinodolski, and then to Rijeka. There he brought famous Italian printers, Domenico and Bartolomeo Zanetti from Brescia, who printed Misal hruacki. Printed on eight unpaginated and 248 paginated leaves, the missal abounds in woodcut Gothic and Glagolitic initials and in a multitude of drawings representing humanlike figures. Large woodcut illustrations depicting Annunciation and Crucifixion stretch over entire pages, while the front page bears a woodcut illustration of Saint Jerome, printed above the title, whose 14 lines are cascading in the form of a down arrow. It shows the saint seated and writing, and a lion laying by the saint’s feet, with its front paws resting on a book. Kožičić’s coat of arms, showing a bishop’s mitre above the shield and a figure of a rearing lion, is printed beneath the colophon, whose 13 lines are cascading down in the form of an inverted pyramid. The missal is printed in two colours, red and black, with the front page and colophon printed in red. It was printed in Rijeka on 28 April 1531, in bishop Kožičić’s house, as the colophon indicates. Altogether ten copies of the missal have been preserved, of which one complete and restored copy is kept by the National and University Library in Zagreb, under the shelfmark RIIA-8°-8.

In 2016, the National and University Library in Zagreb and University Library Rijeka jointly published the missal’s facsimile edition, whose copy was presented as a gift to Pope Francis the same year, during the visit of the Croatian Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković to the Vatican.