Priest Savo Nakicenović

—By O.N.—

Father Savo Nakicenovic, an ortodox priest, ethnologist and geographer, was born in Kuti on January 25, 1882. Both his father and mother came from old priestly families. The Nakicenovics came to Kuti from Ljubomir near Trebinje, and there from Serbia. They distinguished themselves in actions around Herceg Novi in 1687. According to Goran Komar, they also participated in the Venetian sabotage attempts towards Herceg Novi when Venice took over the Risan coast (1684).

After elementary school, he attended a year at the Maritime School in Srbina, and then completed six grades of classical gymnasium in Kotor. Later, he privately took all the exams for the seventh and eighth grades of gymnasium. He graduated in theological sciences from the Zadar Seminary in 1904. That same year, Bishop Gerasim Petranovic ordained him a priest in the Church of St. Luke in Kotor, and at the end of the year, in December, he became the parish priest of Sasovici.

His first articles were about prominent figures in the region. In 1906, the Serbian Royal Academy in Belgrade accepted his anthropogeographic essay “The Municipalities of Herceg Novi, Risan, Perast, and Sutorina” for the Ethnographic Collection “Settlements of Serbian Lands – Discussions and Materials”. (1) This essay was expanded and refined to become his most important work.

In the same year, he became a member of Matica Srpska in Novi Sad.

From 1907 to 1909, he also worked as an assistant teacher at a school in Kuti.

His work was monitored with suspicion by the Austro-Hungarian authorities. Because of his profession, he constantly traveled to villages, and he also began to collect material for his main work. In the manuscript of his autobiographical data, he complains that due to his research, local Austrophiles reported him to the authorities as a traitor.

He became a member of the Geographical Society in 1910. He corresponded with the society’s president, Jovan Cvijić, until his own death. Unfortunately, most of the correspondence has been lost.

The study “Boka” was published in 1913. Regarding the reaction of the Austro-Hungarian authorities to the book, he wrote: “Because of this book, I was denounced and accused of treason. On January 2, 1914, two policemen came to my house and conducted a complete search. They took away my separate copy of Boka, a book of financial deposits, and several letters from the Academy of Sciences and the Geographical Society in Belgrade.”(2)

In 1912, the priest became the parish priest of Kuti and the supervisor of the local elementary school. In the same year, with the help of Vuk Ćorović and Andrija Ožegović, he founded the Serbian Farmers’ Cooperative in Kuti. (3)

From the “Biography”, we learn that he was preparing a manuscript similar to the book “Boka”, apparently for the Ethnographic Journal. When he returned from Konavle, where he was preparing material, he was stopped by a policeman at the railway station in Herceg Novi, who confiscated his manuscript on the pretext that it was being used for spying purposes.

During World War I, Father Savo’s movements were limited to the territory of his parish, and in July 1914 he was arrested and sent to Mamula prison. Even when he was released, he was not allowed to leave Kuti until the end of the war.

His manuscript on the history of Herceg Novi up to 1918, prepared for the Matica Srpska in Dubrovnik, was not published during his lifetime due to the war, nor after the war, because a significant number of pages went missing.

He initiated the establishment of a lower high school in Herceg Novi in 1919. In 1920/21, he taught history, geography, and calligraphy. On the proposal of Jovan Cvijić, Father Savo was decorated with the Order of St. Sava in 1924.

He fell ill with paralysis in April 1924. In his last letter to Jovan Cvijić in September of the same year, he wrote: “I suffer from paralysis, an enlarged heart, and kidney disease. The illness is getting worse. Everything has already failed and left me. My eyes are shining, so I can’t even read… Please don’t mind, good Jovan, that I’m writing this letter weakly and on this kind of paper – believe me, I’ve been writing for four days now.” (4)

He died on April 25, 1926, at the age of 44. A year before his death, he was visited by the eminent Bishop of Ohrid, Nikolaj Velimirović, who was later proclaimed a saint.

He was buried in the church of St. Andrew in Kuti. He knew Ancient Greek and Latin, as well as Italian and German.

He collected folk tales, riddles, and customs of the Boka region. Two manuscripts of Father Sava are currently lost, probably in the legacy of Jovan Cvijić, to whom they were sent. These manuscripts were about Konavle and additions to the book “Boka”.

His study on the Knin region remained unfinished and is located in the archives of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SANU). 

(1) Savo J. Ivošević – Prota Savo Nakićenović – bokeljski istoričar i etnograf; „Boka“ – zbornik radova iz nauke, kulture i umjetnosti br. 13-14, Herceg Novi, 1982, p. 130

(2) Životopis popa Sava Nakićenovića, rukopis (Arhiv Srpske akademije nauke i umetnosti (ASANU), (10386), p. 2; according to ibid., p. 134

(3) Dr Goran Komar, Kuti – selo u Boko Kotorskoj, Herceg Novi 2002.

(4) according to: Savo J. Ivošević – Prota Savo Nakićenović – bokeljski istoričar i etnograf; „Boka“ – zbornik radova iz nauke, kulture i umjetnosti 13-14, Herceg Novi, 1982, p. 139