by Lilijana Znidarsic Golec


A proper presentation of the fonds and collections kept by the Archdiocesan Archive in Ljubljana (»Nadškofijski arhiv Ljubljana« in Slovenian) would require a thorough introduction to the history of the Ljubljana (arch)diocese. However, since we do not have that much time, let me point out only the more important historical facts.

The diocese of Ljubljana was founded 540 years ago, in 1461, by Emperor Frederic III; it obtained papal confirmation in 1462, and got its first bishop, Sigismund von Lamberg, the following year. The diocese then covered several disconnected areas lying in Carniola (Kranjska), Styria (Štajerska) and Carinthia (Koroška).

The seat of the diocese, Ljubljana (Laibach), was the capital of the province of Carniola. The Styrian parishes assigned to the bishop were the ones which had pertained to the old Benedictine Abbey of Gornji Grad (»Oberburg« in German). It is from this Abbey, founded as early as the first half of the 12th century, that the oldest parchments held by the »Nadškofijski arhiv« originate.

The diocesan territory changed more drastically in the 1780's, under Emperor Joseph II. About fifty years later, in 1833, the diocesan borders finally became identical with those of the province of Carniola. Forty years ago, in 1961, the Ljubljana diocese was elevated to an archdiocese, and since 1968, Ljubljana's archbishop has been the Metropolitan of the Slovenian ecclesiastical province.

Knowing what one can expect to find in the »Nadskofijski arhiv« presupposes a certain degree of knowledge of how the bishopric functioned as well as what religious foundations, institutions, and societies it encompassed. It also implies taking into account the dimensions of time and space: for example, if someone is interested in the ecclesiastical conditions in a certain Carniolan or, let's say, Lower Styrian region in about 1800, he should first find out whether or not the region belonged to the Ljubljana diocese at that time. If it did not, episcopal records such as visitation registers would not be found in the Ljubljana archive.

On the internet, some of you may have come across a site created by the »Pokrajinski arhiv Maribor« which contains concise information on the »Nadškofijski arhiv« in English (at Unfortunately, most of the data are no longer correct, and there are quite a few mistakes in the description of fonds. (This is not to blame the »Pokrajinski arhiv Maribor«, but rather to encourage the »Nadškofijski arhiv« to set up their own website as soon as possible.) We would just like to point out two mistakes: the phrase »documents since 1140« should read »parchments from 1147 onwards«, and the phrase »files of the Ljubljana Chapter« should be »fonds of the Ljubljana Cathedral Chapter«. The Chapter, the bishop's »main-stay«, was established along with the bishopric in 1461. It is worthy of mention that the earliest census records from 1754 are kept in the Ljubljana Cathedral Chapter fonds. A more detailed presentation of the »Nadskofijski arhiv« and its records is available in English in the »Summary« in the Guide to the Fonds and Collections of the Archdiocesan Archive Ljubljana, published in 1999.

As concerns the preserved parish records, the archive in general stores the older documents of the parishes that have been under the jurisdiction of the Ljubljana bishopric since 1920. (At present, the archdiocese covers the territory of around 310 parishes.) Among parish records, the baptismal, marriage, and death registers (called »maticne knjige« in Slovenian) are no doubt the most valuable sources for genealogists. The Council of Trent, which ended in 1563, decreed that parish priests (i.e. Roman Catholic parish priests) must keep records of their parishioners' baptisms and marriages, whereas the recording of deaths was prescribed half a century later, in 1614. The oldest preserved baptismal registers in the »Nadskofijski arhiv« date back to the year 1583; they originate from the parish of Menges. Up to 1784, baptismal, marriage, and death records were written in Latin, after that in German – in gothic script – and from the last decades of the 19th century onwards in Slovenian.

The examples of baptismal, marriage and death registers: 1. Two pages from the baptismal registers of the parish of Smartno pri Litiji from the period 1674-1688: the entries are in Latin, and they follow a pattern (the date of baptism, the godchild's first name, his or her legitimacy status, the full name of the godchild's father, the first name of his or her mother, the godparents' full names, the name of the priest, and sometimes the domicile of the godchild's family). 2. An example of the already standardized marriage registers belonging to the parish of Skofja Loka, started in 1784. The columns are filled in in German, in gothic script. The data include the date of marriage, the full name of the groom and the bride, the profession of the groom, the domicile of both the groom and the bride, their age, the names of the witnesses, and the name of the priest. 3. An extract from the death registers of the parish of Brusnice from the second half of the 19th century. Up to the year 1883, the entries (recording the date of death, the date of burial, the name, profession and age of the deceased, the cause of his or her death, the answer to the question as to whether the deceased received extreme unction or not, and the priest's name) are written in German, then from 1884 onwards in Slovenian, in Latin characters.

Original registers where the last entry is less than one hundred years old are not stored in the »Nadšofijski arhiv«. Local registry offices keep them until the last entry is 100 years old; then the registers will be handed over to the archive. However, duplicate (baptismal, marriage, and death) records beginning in 1835 can be researched in the »Nadškofijski arhiv«. The archive keeps a regularly updated catalogue of all the »maticne knjige« of the Ljubljana archdiocese.

Besides baptismal, marriage, and death registers, the so-called status animarums (the Latin term means »state of souls«) are of great importance to genealogical researchers. However, they have never served as official records; hence, the data they contain always need to be checked against the official registers. Status animarums were intended to help parish priests with pastoral work. Parish priests usually recorded the dates on which members of a household first received their sacraments as well as the »extent« to which the parishioners were acquainted with Catholic teachings: in fact, before Easter, the parish priest would visit and examine the family members. The oldest preserved status animarums in the Ljubljana archdiocese originate from the second half of the 18th century. The example of the status animarum from the end of the 19th century (with some dates older than that) belongs to the parish of Zelezniki. The data include the name of the village or neighborhood (within the parish), the house number (within the village or neighborhood), the house name (hisno ime), the names of the owner and other members of the household, the dates of their birth or baptism, the dates of their first confession and Holy Communion, the dates of their marriage, the place from which or to which they moved, and sometimes the priest's notes on the behavior of individual members. The abbreviations are mostly in Latin, for example »Pf.« = pater familiae (father), »fla« = filia (daughter), and so on. »B« is an abbreviation for »bene« (well), and »m« for »male« (badly); they both relate to the above-mentioned pre-Easter examinations.

More information and practical suggestions in regard to researching the holdings in the Archdiocesan Archive Ljubljana are provided in Peter Hawlina's text on the internet (at, and especially in Branka Lapajne's booklet entitled »Researching your Slovenian Ancestors«, published in 1996 in Ontario, Canada. The latter deals with research aids such as inventories and indexes in some detail, and quotes numerous examples illustrating the contents of the material as well as the difficulties genealogists most often encounter.


* I am much obliged to Patricia Walsh, member of Slovenian Genealogy Society, International, who generously helped me brush up the text.