Saint Tryphon festivities are the most significant celebration in Boka Kotorska Bay, which has been taking place ever since the 9th century, and which is linked to the cult of St. Tryphon, who died a martyr at the time of the Roman emperor Decius, in the third century. The cult of St. Tryphon is very strong in Kotor, Boka Kotorska and Bari, and it has given a special mark to Kotor. The relics of St. Tryphon were brought to Kotor in 809, thus this town gets the relics before Dubrovnik, Zadar and Bari. Legend has it that Kotor Navy took part in welcoming the ship with the relics of the saint on 13th January 809, and its participation in the festivities has been kept until the present days. At the beginning of the 9th century, a nobleman from Kotor, Andrija Saracenis erected a church, in Tryphon’s honour, which is testified by the Byzantine emperor-writer Constantine Porphyrogenet, and after the 1979 earthquake, during the course of researches in the cathedral, the archaeological remains of that church were found.
That temple most likely disappeared in a fire, at the end of the tenth century. The citizens of Kotor built a new cathedral in the 12th century. Following a meticulous restoration, undertaken after the 1979 earthquake which badly damaged the building, the cathedral was handed over to believers and cultural heritage, and the life of Kotor and Montenegro in December 2000.
St. Tryphon festivities since 2001
St. Tryphon festivities started in Kotor on 27th January with “Lode” – lauding the glory of St. Tryphon, the patron saint of Kotor and Kotor Diocese, read by “young admiral” of Kotor Navy. On that day, in 1192, accompanied by the sound of St. Tryphon dance, the white flag with the image of the Saint was lifted on the mast of the cathedral for the first time. The celebration begins on 2nd February with a Holy mass in Kotor cathedral and the blessing of the Saint, followed by the solemn transfer of the relics and incensing of the holy relics (the relics will be incensed by six Orthodox and six Catholics).
On Saint Tryphon Day, 3rd February, there are holy masses in the cathedral, and Kotor Diocese announces that this year, for the first time after half a century, there is going to be external celebration of the festivity. On Sunday, 4th February, the program will begin in front of the main town gate, by welcoming of the Bokelian Navy and the brass band from Tivat, and it will continue on the square in front of the cathedral, where the Navy will perform its traditional dance. Solemn Pontifical Mass in the cathedral will be lead by the archbishop metropolitan of Split, Monsignor Marin Barisic accompanied by the cathedral choir.
After that, there will be the procession along the streets and squares of the town carrying the relics of Saint Tryphon, which will signify the renewal of the tradition interrupted in 1946. The end of the festivities will be marked by lowering of the flag from the cathedral mast on 11th February.
The restored cathedral, dedicated to the Saint, which is the symbol of the town and its most significant monument, is the place of gathering of believers and all the people of good will, since the festivities of the patron saint of the town are celebrated by all, and not only by Catholics.