Zagreb gets an archbishop

During the long historical development of the diocese, bishops of Zagreb tried to separate the Diocese of Zagreb from Hungarian metropolises on several occasions and elevate it to the level of an archdiocese and metropolitan see. They wanted to achieve this in two ways: either to proclaim the Diocese of Zagreb an archdiocese and metropolitan see or to legally merge it with the Archdiocese of Split and transfer the metropolitan see from Split to Zagreb.

The first move in this direction was made by Zagreb’s Bishop Stjepan II, but the Tatar invasion of Croatia in 1242 prevented the attempt. A similar attempt was made by Bishop of Zagreb Aleksandar Ignacije Mikulić in the 17th century, but was prevented by the Republic of Venice. Bishop Martin Brajkovć could have succeeded at it, but he died too early.

The elevation of the Diocese of Zagreb to an archdiocese and metropolitan see finally happened at the time of awakened national awareness, in the middle of the 19th century. At the time, the Croatian parliament (Sabor) took this matter into their own hands, of course, with fierce opposition by the Hungarians. However, the firm position of Sabor and Ban Josip Jelačić and the support of Viennese Apostolic Nuncio Michele Cardinal Viale-Prelà had finally led to success: Pope Pius IX elevated the Diocese of Zagreb to an archdiocese with the bull "Ubi primum placuit" on December 11, 1852 and established a new independent Croatian-Slavonian Ecclesiastical Province. Apart from the Archdiocese of Zagreb, the province encompassed the Bosnia-Đakovo, Srijem, Križevci and Senj-Modruš dioceses.

Apostolic Nuncio Michele Viale-Prelà installed Zagreb's first archbishop and metropolitan Juraj Haulik, who was appointed cardinal in 1856, in the Zagreb Cathedral on May 8, 1853.

The Diocese of Senj-Modruš remained part of the Zagreb Metropolitan See until 1969, when it was merged with the Diocese of Rijeka, elevated to and renamed into the Archdiocese and Metropolitan See of Rijeka-Senj, when the Split-Makarska Archdiocese and Metropolitan See for southern Croatia was established as well.

With the establishment of two new dioceses in 1997, the Croatian-Slavonian Ecclesiastical Province expanded to the dioceses of Požega and Varaždin.

The Croatian-Slavonian Ecclesiastical Province existed for 155 years, until 2008. Pope Benedict XVI established a new ecclesiastical province, the Đakovo-Osijek Ecclesiastical Province, with a bull on June 18, 2008. The province includes three dioceses that were part of the Croatian-Slavonian Ecclesiastical Province until then, in particular the newly-established Archdiocese of Đakovo-Osijek , independent Diocese of Srijem and new Diocese of Požega.

At the same time, he established the Zagreb Ecclesiastical Province, which encompasses the Archdiocese of Zagreb, the Eparchy of Križevci and the Diocese of Sisak; and the Diocese of Bjelovar-Križevci as of 2010.

The Archdiocese of Zagreb had 75 bishops and archbishops in its 900-year long history. If the two-term pontifical service of Bishop Eberhard was counted twice, then there would be 76 (arch)bishops. Some of them were exceptional persons, such as Bishop Stjepan II (1225-1247) and the Blessed Augustin Kažotić (1303-1322) in the Middle Ages, the Cathedral builders and renovators, as well as defenders of the Croatian homeland throughout the centuries of occupation and diverse wars, and great archbishops of the 19th and 20th centuries with the cardinals, the Blessed Alojzije Stepinac, Dr Franjo Šeper and Franjo Kuharić, at the head, when numerous activities were launched and a lot was done for the development of a fervent Church and religious life. Presiding Archbishop Josip Bozanić is actually the 76th (arch)bishop of Zagreb. Numerous details about arch/bishops can be read in the book "Zagrebački biskupi i nadbiskupi" [Bishops and Archbishops of Zagreb – tr.] (ŠK, Zagreb 1995).
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