Bishop Anton Vovk Collection
The collection illustrates Anton Vovk's theological and pastoral work as a priest and bishop who led the Catholic Church in the Ljubljana Archdiocese despite being persecuted by the institutions under the control of the communist government. The Collection includes books, original manuscripts, the author's published articles and correspondence, showing Vovk's critical stance on Slovenia’s communist regime in the period until his death in 1963.
Ljubljana Krekov trg 1, Slovenia 1000
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Name of collection
AAL 333 Bishop Anton Vovk Collection
Provenance and cultural activities
The collection was guarded after Archbishop Vovk’s death in 1963 in the Archdiocese of Ljubljana. The collector began to collect the documents related to his activities out of sense of responsibility for his work and function, and as a tool to provide an overview of and control over his activities. Archbishop Vovk wrote in his diary that he recorded it for the sake of his own memory and as an admonition to others. Only in 2000 iwas it transferred to the Archdiocesan Archives, where it was systemized and the archbishop’s personal secret diaries were discovered, which were unknown even to his personal secretary who was still alive in 2000. Otherwise, it was no secret that Archbishop Vovk left some of the archival materials after his death.
The collection was conditionally available as of 2002 and it was fully opened to the public in 2013, because of the rule that 50 years should pass from the bishop’s death until the opening of the collection. Among the researchers using the collection after it was made available was France Martin Dolinar. Their argument was that the collection was important for Slovenian national history because Bishop Vovk was the most prominent Slovenian clergyman of his time. The collection was important for international cultural history because Bishop Vovk’s persecution was a part of a wider phenomenon in the relationship between the Yugoslav communist authorities and the Catholic Church, and his response to this persecution was a model for the activities of the Slovenian Catholic clergy as well as the Catholic Church in neighbouring Croatia and in the rest of the world. Nowadays the collection is open for research, exhibitions, public events and publication.
During the Communist period the collection was withheld from the public, but the fact of its existence allowed for the illumination of certain events, such as the burning of Bishop Vovk in Novo Mesto in 1952, because the archival records of the communist authorities about the event were systematically destroyed, so this collection sheds major light on it. The fact that Bishop Vovk’s diary was discovered only in 2000 and that he kept it secret from even his closest associates is a testament to his sense of persecution by the communist authorities and he apparently believed that only by going to such lengths would he be able to preserve for posterity the memory and truth about his suffering and that of his clergy. The authorities were aware that the bishop was collecting materials, because it was a standard procedure for his post, but they were unaware of the extent of his notes, namely his diaries.
The collection includes sermons, lists of imprisoned priests, and notes about talks with the authorities. The bishop’s activities were important in maintaining the spirit of the Catholic Church in the Ljubljana Archdiocese and in Slovenia in general. Also, his activities contributed to preservation of truth about the functioning of the Catholic Church inside the framework of the communist regime. In 2017 a film entitled Goreči škof (The Burning Bishop) directed by David Sipoš, about the attack on Anton Vovk on January 20, 1952 in Novo Mesto, when he was doused with gasoline and set on fire, was released to the public.
Description of content
The content of the collection illustrates the functioning of the most important Catholic Church leader in Slovenia in the period between 1945 and 1963. It includes transcripts of his sermons, correspondence with the clergy of his diocese and with the state authorities as well as data about the police and judicial persecution of his clergy and himself. It consists of 17 archival boxes of miscellaneous materials, one box of press clippings and one audio recording.
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): unknown quantity
- publications (books, newspapers, articles, press clippings): unknown quantity
- voice recordings (including oral history recordings): 0-9
Stakeholder(s) of the collection
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
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Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- completely open to the public
Vovk, Anton. V spomin in opomin. Osebni zapisi škofa Antona Vovka od 1945 do 1953. (In memory and admonition. Personal notes of bishop Anton Vovk from 1945 to 1953). Ljubljana: Družina, 2003.
Author(s) of this page
- Bagarić, Petar
Dolgan Milan. “Anton Vovk in Jakob Ukmar : nekaj vzporednic“ (Anton Vovk and Jakob Ukmar: some parallels). Zvon: kulturno-družbena revija (Bell: cultural-social revue), 8/5 (2005), pp. 87-88.
Dolinar, France Martin. “Vovk, Anton, nadškof (1900–1963).“ (Vovk, Anton, archbishop (1900-1963)) In Slovenska biografija. Slovenska akademija znanosti in umetnosti, Znanstvenoraziskovalni center SAZU. Ljubljana: 2013. Accessed November 20, 2017. http://www.slovenska-biografija.si/oseba/sbi814645/
Kolar Bogdan. “Ljubljanski nadškof Anton Vovk (1903-1963). Protagonist v treh državnih tvorbah“. (Archbishop of Ljubljana Anton Vovk (1903-1963). Protagonist in Three State Formations) Studia Historica Slovenica, 11 (2011) nu. 2-3 641-661.
Košnjek Jože. “Anton Vovk, prezrt slovenski škof“. (Anton Vovk, neglected Slovenian bishop), Gorenjski glas, 3. 2. 2016.
Merlak Ivan. Za narod in Cerkev: življenjepis božjega služabnika Antona Vovka. (For nation and Church: biography of Servant of God Anton Vovk) Ljubljana: Družina, 2002.
Otrin Blaž and Anton Štrukelj. Archbishop Anton Vovk: the servant of God. Ljubljana: Družina, 2008.
Otrin Blaž and Anton Štrukelj. Nadškof Anton Vovk: božji služabnik. (Archbishop Anton Vovk : Sthe ervant of God) Ljubljana: Družina, 2008.
Vovk, Anton. V spomin in opomin. Osebni zapisi škofa Antona Vovka od 1945 do 1953. (In memory and admonition. Personal notes of bishop Anton Vovk from 1945 to 1953) Ljubljana: Družina, 2003.
Otrin, Blaž, interview by Bagarić, Petar, July 13, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection