Josip Radić, Croatian War Veteran Turns Tragedy Into Art on the Island of Brač

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Pučišća, Brač – Josip Radić, A retired Croatian Naval Officer has created the 1st ever stone replica of Saint Peter’s Basilica. The project began in 2014 and was finished in April 2019. And he’s self-taught !

josip basilika
Josip Radić-Miniature Saint Peter’s Basilica. Source: Josip Radić – kamene minijature svjedoci vremena I vjere 

I first met Josip in the summer of 2014, with the Water Polo Cruise that my husband owns and operates.

Since then, we have been coming to Pučišća once a week during the summer months  to share this man’s incredible story with our guests.

ivan and josip radic doing interview
Josip Radić and Ivan Vranješ standing under the mic giving an interview for WaterPoloCruise

Josip, did you always have a love for stonemasonry?

“To tell you the truth, I never dreamed I’d be a stonemason. Growing up on Pučišća, while going to elementary school I saw how much my father was struggling as a stonemason. The craft required so much effort and I just wanted to get away from stone.”

pucisce 5
Stonemasonry School located in Pučišća, Brač

“So that’s what I did!”

pucisce 8
Inside the school of Stonemasonry Pučišća, Brač 


“I left and went to a Naval Military High School. From there I went on to finish the Naval Military Academy. “

kiki pucisce
Kiki – Inside the school of Stonemasonry Pučišća, Brač 


“Once I graduated from the Naval Academy I joined the Croatian Homeland war. In 1991 I became the youngest Naval Warship Commander in Croatia.”

“After the war ended I signed a contract with Gojko Šušak Defense Minister at the time, to become a Military Attaché in the United States.”

“But instead of going to the U.S.A. I ended up in the hospital severely ill. I was 33 years old, weighed 50 kilograms (110 lbs.) and was on the brink of death. My life got completely turned around.”

“I was retired from the military as a Naval Officer at 33 and struggling to find interest in life again.”

“My cousin told me I needed to get a hobby. When I saw him doing some small stone houses, I asked him to give me a bit of material to try and play with. And that’s when it all started for me.”

josip isprid crke ne bracu
Josip Radić standing on front of the Church of The Blessed Virgin Mary, holding one of his replicas. He made a replica of this church. See below.

For the past 20 years Josip has been creating beautiful stone structures. He’s self-taught which makes this all the more remarkable.

His accomplishments include a list of churches, spires, belfries to name a few.

My 6 year old took this picture. A for effort. Doesn’t do justice to Josip Radić’s talent.
Yup still blurry. But if you kinda squint it doesn’t look so bad?
Replica of : The Church Blessed Virgin Mary in Pučišća. 

The most impressive is the Basilica of St. Peter.

basilika pod staklom
St. Peter’s Basilica : Built by Josip Radić
basilika pod staklom2
St. Peter’s Basilica : Built By Josip Radić
Josip Radic
It took 5 years and over 1,000 hours to build the exact replica. Scale is 1:200

The Basilica was made to scale using actual architectural plans and drawings. 

“I went to Rome and Archbishop Eterović introduced me to people who could help me locate plans to start building the replica.”

“In the Vatican they told me I was crazy and that what I was doing was impossible. They even questioned my sanity. In their mind if I must be crazy to do something so grand, because if it was possible someone would have done it by now.”

“It was an honor to have Archbishop Eterović show me things that are closed to the public. He took me into the Vatican itself, the Vatican Museum and the Vatican Archives.”

“With the help of the Archbishop and the Director of The Vatican Archives, I was given drawings of the Basilica.”

“On February 9, 2014 back home in Pučišća, Croatia I started building. 5 years later I’m finally done.”

This guy is remarkable. He re-invents himself after an illness ends his military career.

Of all the things Josip has made, my personal favorite is the one he made for my husband and I.

Thank you Josip !
Josip Radić made this and engraved it for our 10 year wedding anniversary. 

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A few of the other pieces I have purchased from Josip over the years. Every summer the collection grows.

Josip Radić’s smaller stone pieces inside of the Church of The Blessed Virgin Mary. Guests on the Waterpolo Cruise get a chance to meet him and buy autographed pieces. 
Mara Vranješ







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