Gregory of Nin: The Croatian statue with a lucky big toe

A lot of people believe in luck and lucky charms. Some believe it’s lucky to find a four-leaf clover, some believe horseshoes are lucky, and others believe seeing two magpies together symbolises good things to come. I personally feel lucky when I have an extra Jaffa Cake in the pack (I honestly think that is a sign I should probably buy a lottery ticket). We’re quite a superstitious nation. We finish portentous sentences with “touch wood” and throw our change into wells, but Croatia has an entire statue to bring them luck. Well, a small part of it…

Photo credit: Antoine_Kienlen

Photo credit: Antoine_Kienlen

In Split, Croatia, there is a statue that is meant to give people good luck. The statue is of Gregory of Nin (Croatian: Grgur Ninski) who was quite the legend back in his day.

Photo credit: Amphisbène

Photo credit: Amphisbène

In 926, Gregory of Nin, who was a medieval bishop, decided to stand up to the Pope and the Vatican, and hold church services in the Croatian language. This hadn’t been done before, as it was clearly stated by the Pope that any religious services had to be held in Latin. Gregory of Nin argued that this meant the only people who attended church were the well-educated and rich. This meant church services were quite empty, and Christianity within Croatia started to lose popularity and fade.

Photo credit: Claire Cox

Photo credit: Claire Cox

Gregory of Nin introduced a national language to Croatia, and would only hold his ceremony in that language, rather than Latin. The people of Croatia today see him as a symbol of pride and a national treasure. He changed the face of religion in Croatia, which I think is pretty big achievement – he deserves that statue!

Photo credit: Dennis Jarvis

Photo credit: Dennis Jarvis

The statue was built in 1929 by a famous Croatian sculptor, Ivan Mestrovic, in 1929 to commemorate the 1000th year since Gregory of Nin’s use of the Croatian language in religion. The statue is located in the grounds of the beautiful Diocletian Palace. You won’t miss it; it’s around 20ft high!

Photo credit: Dennis Jarvis

Photo credit: Dennis Jarvis

Once you get close to the statue, you’ll notice his feet. You’ll see that his big toe is shiny enough to see your own reflection in, whereas the rest of the statue is bronzed. This is because Croatians believe it’s good luck to rub his toe, and if you make a wish whilst doing so, it will come true!

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About Helen Winslade

Helen Winslade

My fondest holiday memories so far are from when I travelled to Rome. Once I made it to the hotel, I chucked my bags on the bed and just went out for a walk, and my first stop was a restaurant (naturally, I love food). The food in Italy is amazing. Even if you just have a pizza, it tastes so much better out there. I won’t even go into how much I loved the ice cream because words cannot do it justice.

We went on a lot of tours while we were out there, but the one that stands out has to be Vatican City. It was one of those tours where you didn’t really listen to much of what your tour guide said, because you were too busy looking at everything and taking all the amazing things in. I took pictures of everything, even down to the floor tiles just because I didn’t want to forget anything.

Helen used to work in our marketing team

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