Restitution

Restitution

Kliknite za povečavo In July 1940 at least 65 art works were removed from the monastery in accordance with two Italian laws. The intention of this removal was to protect them from aeroplane bombing and other destructive consequences of war. The removal was carried out by the responsible authority for the protection of historical monuments - Soprintendenza of Trieste. The art works were first taken to Villa Manin, the home of the last Venetian doge, in Passariano/Friuli and then to even safer places e.g. to San Daniele del Friuli.

Some art works supposedly returned to Koper (during the war or thereafter), but were then returned to Italy. It often happened that the Italian authorities returned the paintings to the provincialate of the Venetian Franciscan province and they were officially recorded as returned to the original place. Just an example. Carl Somedo de Marco, the director of the museum of Udine and a honorary curator of the Soprintendenza of Trieste, wrote in his diary that the polyptych Madonna and Child with Saints painted by Cima da Conegliano was returned to St Anne’s Church on 5 November 1943, but one of the Italian Franciscans took it to the monastery S. Francesco della Vigna in Venice in 1946. By 1947 the Venetian Franciscans also carried away some rare liturgical books, valuable liturgical vessels, vestments and altar cloths because they were afraid they might be destroyed.

Slovenian Franciscans have been trying hard to have the art works and church furniture restituted. It is evident from the correspondence between them, the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage and the Customs Administration that a part of the objects arrived at the customs office in Koper already in 1955. Though the Franciscans had been assured beforehand that no customs duty would have to be paid, the assurances proved false. The Customs Administration would only have allowed import after the payment of the duties. The Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage intervened as well by declaring that the objects were Yugoslavian property. Yet in vain. The objects were returned to Venice because the Franciscans did not have the means to settle the customs duties.

The Slovenian state as well as the church authorities and especially the Franciscans themselves have been doing their best to have the removed art works returned to their original place.