Nikola Tavelić

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Saint Nikola Tavelić
Blazeni Nikola Tavelic Rijeka 0308.jpg
Born c. 1340
probably Šibenik
Died November 14, 1391
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Beatified 1889, Rome by Leo XIII
Canonized June 21, 1970, Rome by Paul VI
Feast November 14

Nikola Tavelic (c. 1340 – November 14, 1391) is a saint of the Catholic Church. This Franciscan missionary, who died a martyr's death in Jerusalem, was the first Croatian saint.


The courtyard of the former Mount Zion Monastery of the Franciscans in Jerusalem, where St. Nikola lived.

Most sources mention Šibenik as Nikola's birthplace, but another possible location is Velim near Stankovci. In 1365, Nikola became a friar in Bribir, the seat of the Šubić, a powerful Croatian noble family.

Nikola was among 60 priests from various Franciscan provinces who were called by the Bosnian vicar, motivated by Pope Gregory XI, to work as missionaries in Bosnia. He spread Catholicism around Bosnia for 12 years. In his report to the pope, the Bosnian vicar later said that the missionaries converted around 50,000 Bosnian heretics.

In 1384, Nikola went to Palestine with the Franciscans Deodatus Aribert from Rodez, Peter from Narbonne and Stephen from Cuneo. He stayed in the Mount Zion Monastery in Jerusalem, learning Arabic and visiting holy places. Together with his three friends, he was brought before the qadi of Jerusalem and sentenced to death. All four missionaries were martyred near the Jaffa Gate on November 14, 1391.


The Franciscan Gerard Chalvet headed the monastery of Holy Salvation and saw their execution. Together with the Franciscan Martin from Šibenik, he sent a detailed report to Europe: Pope, Leipzig, Šibenik and elsewhere. Nikola was celebrated as a martyr by Franciscans all over Europe, especially in Šibenik.

Five centuries later, in 1880, the bishop Antun Josip Fosco from Šibenik started the procedure for the Holy See to beatify Nikola Tavelić. It was done by a special decree of the pope Leo XIII for the Šibenik Diocese in 1889 and for the entire Franciscan Order in 1898. Two years later, the same thing was done for the Holy Land.

The cult of Nikola Tavelić grew between the world wars. He was canonized by the pope Paul VI in front of 20,000 Croats in Rome, on June 21, 1970.


Side-altar dedicated to Saint Nikola Tavelić in the Franciscan Church of Šibenik, Croatia.

The feast day of Saint Nikola Tavelić and companions is November 14.

Most churches built in his name are located in Croatia. Some of them are in Banjevci, Cerovac, Lišani, Perković, Split, Vinjani, Zagreb, Rijeka and Županja. Churches abroad can be found in Hurlingham, Buenos Aires in Argentina, Montreal and Winnipeg in Canada, Melbourne and Sydney in Australia and Tomislavgrad in Bosnia-Herzegovina


  • D. Mandić: Documenta martyrii beati Tavelic, Roma 1958.
  • A. Crnica, Historico-iuridica dilucidatio vitae, martyrii et gloriae beati N. Tavelic, Roma 1958,

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