Island of Brac
Description. Sumartin is the most eastern and the youngest settlement on Brac.
Thanks to bad connections with the Brac interior it was isolated for a long
time. Slightly different mentality, clothing, language and customs were brought
and developed there. Sumartin is an agreeable and hospitable place. The greater
part of the place is set on the northern slope of the former harbour, Sitno,
sheltered from the north wind. The houses are of stone, detached, with many
green crowns of trees in the spaces between them. The lanes are narrow and run
steeply from the bay up to the end of the place. The larger fronts are turned
towards the south with many little windows in the low houses in whose roofs
mansarde were built with the kitchen underneath.
On the southern side are the gates of the cellars and the fishermans’ store-rooms. The opposite northern front is partly dug into the ground and from here on enters the house directly. The village set in the vicinity of the big quarries, used the stone for the paving of lanes, for the dents (the nails) on the house walls, for the doorways and for the stone seats in the shade of the clumps of trees in the Sumartine yards.
Striking to the eye is the size of the primary shool building near the quay, the Franciscan monastery hidden in the green oleanders and a nice hotel in the thick pine-wood on Punta. Sumartin has some excellent beaches such as the one on Jezero and in Lucicia.
History. The present region of the Sumartin community belonged in the 12th
and the 13th century to the estates of the famous abbey of Povlja. This
picturesque setting is very clearly seen from the hill of St Nicholas above
Sumartin, where on the peak we find one of the oldest little Early Croatian
churches of a very interesting style. It is reached by the way that at Radonja
branches off from the asphalt road to Selca.
The harbour of the present Sumartin was almost completely unused until the 17th century. Then, during the days of the Kandi war, on the 11th of November 1646, there embarked the emigrants from Bosnia, Herzegovina and the Makarska interior, led by the Franciscans. They established a settlement in the harbour, called Sitno.
Sumartin is one of the rare settlements that knows the exact day of its birth.
The newcomers found there a ruined house of the Byzantine type (fatta a la graeca) and adapted it into a shrine dedicated to St. Martin. They settled there with Venetian permission but arrived on thea already occupied lands. The Sumartins for long fought for the land but without great success. That is why these continentals turned to the sea and learned to live from it. They became good seamen, fishermen and ship-builders. The small ship-yard of Lucica specializing in the manufacture and repair of wooden ships, came to be known outside the land. Nowhere else on Brac, in proportion to the number of families, are there so many ships as in Sumartin. At the end of the 17th century two families established a small settlement, Rasotica, set in the bay bearing the same name. Today Rasotica is a practically depopulated hamlet with some fifteen houses that are periodically inhabited.
The community, which was established by the Franciscans after their arrival in Sumartin, became very active in 1738 and got the status of a monastery while Sumartin became an independent parish. At the end of the century, in 1783 to 1784, the plague destroyed a great number of the population. That is why the votive chapel of St. Rocchus was erected, like the shrines erected in other settlements on Brac, (Supetar, Sutivan, Bol). In this Sumartin monastery many well known Franciscans took residence, like, for example the author Andrija Stancic, the popular abbot, our prominent historical poet and the poet of history, the Rev. Anrija Kacic-Miosic and the famous opponent of the French policy in Dalmatia and a great patriot the Rev. Andrija Dorotic. Later on, disappointed with some actions taken by Austria which did not unite Dalmatia to the rest of Croatia, he spent the rest of his life in the loneliness of Vranji rac, where we can still see his house standing on the right side of the road to Selca. His grave is set near the present church.
Name. In the remote past, the bay was called Sitno (in 1320), after the plant siti (Jancus maritimus) which grows in damp ground. In this bay, covered with coppices the emigrants discovered the ruin (a la greaca) which they restored and turned into the church of St Martin. Since that time Saint has become the patron of the settlement The name St. Martin or Sumartin was created at the end of the 19th century following the examples of Supetar and Sutivan. Formerly Sumartin was called Vrh Braca, where vrh (peak, top) does not mean the height but the east. They bay Rasotica is found in the Register of Povlja as Rasohatica. In 1288 the site of Vrello with the fish-pond was there.
Monuments. The present monastery is raised on the site of a formerly more
modest dwelling place. The building was initiated by Rev. Andrija Kacic Miosic
in 1747, when he was elected abbot there (in 1745 to 1700). This is inscribed on
the memorial-tablet over the entrance corridor to the monastery.
The present parish church was built thanks to the efforts of Rev. A. Gilic, from 1911 to 1913 and it was consecrated before the First World War on the holiday of St. Martin. The marble altars were made and decorated in mosaic by P. Bilinic in 1912. The graves around the church remind us of the disastrous plague from 1784 (loco de infetti).
Of special interest is the collection of the monastey which consists of the rich archives with many valuable books, some of them being incunabula. There we also fina a copy of Orfelino’s atlas, many codices, the Mass entry-book, bills of the monasterie’s economy, the archives of Andrija Dorotic and many other notes in copy-books. Everything is orderly and registered. To this collection also belong some items of the monastery’s furniture. like for example the old tabernacle made of wood.
Of the greatest value are the well preserved pictures which belong to the Venetian shools, like the early baroque Last Super with the unusual arrangement of figures, Saint Magdalene and Saint Peter and John from the first half of the 17th century. The collection is especially proud of its altar painting of St. Anthony of Padova executed in the rustic manner and signed by Friar Simun Ribarevic, from the end of the 17th century. He painted his own figure dressed in a friar’s garment. This was the first friar dressed in a friar’s garments to be drawn in Dalmatia.