An attentive visitor will discover much more than silver and gold at the Permanent Exhibition of Church Art – the Gold and Silver of Zadar. Behind the name lies the treasure of Zadar history which is inseparable from the Benedictine convent of St. Mary and its nuns guardians of the complex in which the treasure is situated. The great Croatian writer, Miroslav Krleža, initiated the exhibition of “The Gold and Silver of Zadar” back in 1951 and dedicated a booming and matchless essay to it. The exhibition became a permanent one in 1976 and one of the first capital buildings of Croatian culture. The connection between the Benedictine order and Zadar has been unbroken from the Byzantine period to the birth of the new Croatian state. During the bombings of the Allies in 1943, this treasure preserved for centuries was secretly hidden by the Benedictines in a deep hole under the church bell tower and deposited “in the earth to which it belonged”.
The Benedictines have been taking care of the treasure to the present day and show it to all visitors. It narrates of grandeur and pride, perishing and suffering, love and faithfulness, skill and culture, the meaning and wealth of Zadar through history. A reliquary in the shape of a cross dating from the end of the 7thand beginning of the 8th centuries, which is incorrectly thought to have belonged to abbess Čika, will always be called Čika’s cross for the inhabitants of Zadar. It is small and has no gems but most valuable to the locals. Joy and hope, patience, suffering and faith of the tumultuous past periods of the region have been interwoven in the reliquaries and chalices, sculptures and embroidery exhibited here.