Reformation City Ljubljana
Ljubljana is the capital city of the Republic of Slovenia and, also being its largest, the country’s political, economic and cultural centre. There is evidence of dioceses in this former Roman province as far back as the 3rd century. Following renewed systematic missionary efforts during the 8th century, Ljubljana’s churches joined the Aquileia Patriarchy. The Ljubljana diocese was founded in 1461.
Politically, Ljubljana was the capital city of the Duchy of Carniola under Habsburg rule from 1335 until 1908. In the late Middle Ages and early modern era, its citizens mainly spoke German.
Reformation preaching commenced in Ljubljana no later than 1523. The imperial guilds of Carniola helped the Reformation movement to spread. They took it upon themselves to revise church structures and founded a Protestant school in the capital. Humanism was also instrumental in the development of the Reformation. However, the main protagonist was to be the Slovenian Reformer Primus Truber (1508-1586). He was a student of the humanist adherent and pro-Reformation Bishop Pietro Bonomo (1502-1546) of Trieste. After his ordination by Bonomo, Truber’s Reformist sermons, which he conducted in Slovene, caused conflict with his church. Nonetheless, he was made a canon of Ljubljana Cathedral in 1542. However, things changed after Bonomo’s death. His successor implemented the Habsburgs’ anti-Reformation stance in the diocese. In 1548, Truber fled to Nuremberg, where he explicitly committed himself to the Reformation. Then between 1553 and 1561, he steered the free imperial city of Kempten towards Lutheranism as its pastor.
He had started his life’s major work on foreign soil, in southern Germany, in 1550 – to promote the Slovenian Reformation by publishing Reformist works in the Slovenian language. He completed most of the translations into Wendish himself. These included a catechism, a Slovenian church order and the complete New Testament along with parts of the Old. He translated the Biblical scriptures based on the Lutheran Bible. In 1561, he oversaw the team in the Württemberg town of Urach – which included his compatriot Hans Ungnad – that founded the “Ungnad-Trubersche Bibelwerk”, a printing centre dedicated to producing Reformation works in Slovene, Croatian and Italian. By publishing Biblical and catechetical texts in Slovene, Truber was in fact instrumental in developing a written Slovenian language, which had previously not existed as such.
In 1562, he returned to Ljubljana as a superintendent with the aim of establishing a Slovenian Church, but he was forced to leave again just three years later after the new ruler, Archduke Karl, banned him from preaching. He found refuge in the Lutheran Duchy of Württemberg. From 1567 until his death, he was the pastor of Derendingen near Tübingen. During this time, he continued his lifework of translating and publishing Slovenian works in the Urach printing house.
Truber’s Reformation in Slovenia was brought to an end by the successful imposition of the Counter-Reformation during the first third of the 17th century. This process closed the Ministry for Churches and Schools in Ljubljana, expelled Protestant preachers, established a religious reformation commission and banished any noblemen who refused to convert. From that point on, Protestant Christians lived their faith as “clandestine Protestants”. New congregations were formed following the Patent of Toleration issued by Joseph II in 1781; in Ljubljana during the mid-19th century. The independent Slovenian Church A.C. (Augsburg Confession) was founded in 1945. It asserts its status in this predominantly Catholic country as a small but committed minority church.
Truber, who had fallen into obscurity for a long time, is now celebrated in Slovenia as the creator of written Slovenian. His face can be found on the country’s one-euro coin. Reformation Day on 31st October is a national holiday.