The interwar period was the most fertile period in Meštrović’s sacred art. He built four churches after his own drawings: Our Lady of Angels in Cavtat, the Most Holy Redeemer in Otavice, Our Lady in Biskupija and the Chapel of Holy Cross interpolated into the Renaissance fortalice of Crikvine in Split. As well as the iconographic programme for St Mark’s in Zagreb, he also designed for each of these structures the whole of the interior design. But his devising of religious spaces is not limited to built works. He also did drawings and plans for the building of Christ the King Church in Trnje, Zagreb (1922 and 1936) and the new Parish Church of SS Cyril and Methodius in Sušak (Rijeka) in 1940, which were not built, either not in full or not at all.
The Church of Our Lady of Angels – the Račić Family Mausoleum in Cavtat
Our Lady of Angels – the Račić Family Mausoleum – was the first work of religious architecture of Ivan Meštrović to be built, between 1920 and 1922. It is a church and a mausoleum, in which the members of the ship-owning Račić family who tragically perished at the end of World War I were buried. Our Lady of Angels is a unique example of total design in architecture and architectural decoration, and won Meštrović the first prize at the International Exhibition of Decorative Arts in Paris in 1925.
The Church of the Most Holy Redeemer – the Meštrović Family Mausoleum in Otavice
Meštrović built the Church of the Most Holy Redeemer in his home village of Otavice in 1928 to 1930. He thought of it as a mausoleum for himself and his family but also as a church to be used by the inhabitants of his native area.
Meštrović was interred in the church on January 24, 1962. The sepulchral part is in an underground crypt, while religious services are held in the church part, according to Meštrović’s wishes.
The Church of Our Lady in Biskupija by Knin
The Church of Our Lady – the Zvonimir Memorial church of St Mary in Biskupija was built in front of the remains of a basilica of the same name of the 11th century. The Biskupija area abounds in remains of Croatian medieval churches, telling of the continuity of the religious and secular authority of the medieval Croatian state. It was built in 1938 after drawings by Meštrović, and its internal decoration, created in collaboration with the painter Jozo Kljaković, shows that Meštrović had looked for models in the Old Croatian artistic heritage.
The Church of Holy Cross in Meštrović’s Crikvine-Kaštilac in Split
The religious and artistic complex of Crikvine-Kaštilac was created by the renovation of the ruined Renaissance Capogrosso fortalice of the 16th century. The reconstruction plan (1939 to 1941) was devised by Ivan Meštrović in such a way as to adapt the structure for the needs of the housing and exhibition of his works, to which he added a sacred purpose. To house his wooden religious sculptures, he built an exhibition hall, today Holy Cross Church. In it he placed the Great Crucifix (1916) and a series of twenty eight reliefs with depictions of the life of Christ executed in walnut wood (1917 to 1950).