Famous Residents

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France Bevk

A writer, born on 17 September 1890. He was born to a poor family in Zakojca. Already as a child he enjoyed reading, a habit he kept throughout his life. He was a teacher, but did not practice his profession long, focusing rather on editorship and writing. His bibliography is very extensive, including about 250 works. His writings are extremely diverse also in terms of topic and type of narration. He found ideas for his books in childhood and youth events, village life in the Cerkno region, the history of peasant risings and the fascist occupation of the Primorska region. This era is also depicted by his best work, the novel “Kaplan Martin Čedermac”. Due to the fact that his writings opposed the fascist regime he was often imprisoned. His books have been translated into many European languages, and even into Japanese, and his birth house is nowadays a museum open to visitors. He died on the same date as he was born in 1970.

Peter Jereb

National and folk music composer, born on 1st July 1867 in Cerkno. Music came into his life already at the public primary school, where he learnt how to play the violin. He lost his parents early on, and was thus taken in by his uncle, a priest who lived near Kamnik, a town about an hour and a half’s drive away at the base of Alps. At age seventeen he enrolled in the organ music school in Ljubljana. At the same time he was trained as a municipality clerk. He started working in Litija, where he remained until his death in 1951. He was known as the choirmaster of the “Lipa” choir, a composer and cultural worker. He was an extremely prolific composer, having written about 200 compositions for male, female, and mixed choirs. He also composed church and orchestra music.

Dr. Franz Borgia Sedej

The once archbishop of Gorizia and Gradisca was born on 10 October 1854 in Cerkno. He was born into a farming family and was the only child to go to university. He became a priest, but continued his studies and in 1884 obtained a doctor’s degree in theology. He spoke several languages and maintained contacts with learned men. He worked with the famous Slavicist Baudouin de Courtenay, who on Sedej’s initiative visited the Cerkno region and studied the local dialect. In 1906 Sedej was appointed archbishop of Gorizia and Gradisca. The history of the people from the Primorska region was most influenced by his activity during the fascist occupation. He fought for the rights of the Slovene people and for the preservation of the Slovene language in schools, churches, and everyday life. In the end he became a victim of fascism. In 1931, he decided to retire, also due to the Pope’s persuasion. He wanted to be replaced by a person who would treat people of all nationalities equally, which unfortunately did not happen.

Dr. Franc Močnik

A mathematician, born on 1 October 1814 in Cerkno. The famous Slovene mathematician is thought to have been the leading 19th-century mathematical pedagogue in what was then Central Europe. From his hometown of Cerkno he left for school in Idrija, Ljubljana, and Gorizia. He worked as a professor at the Civic School in Gorizia, the universities in Lvov and Olomouc, and also as a school inspector in Ljubljana and Graz. He wrote many textbooks, manuals, and methodology books. These were used by all primary and secondary schools in Austria-Hungary at the time and also elsewhere.
He laid the foundations of modern teaching of mathematics, which thanks to him was recognized as a subject developing precision and logical thinking. As a school inspector in charge of the Kranjska region he strove for the introduction of the Slovene language in primary schools.

Mihael Peternel

He was born on 22 September 1808 at the Laniše farm. He was a priest, a teacher, a natural scientist, a polymath, and an autodidact. He went to primary school in Idrija between 1818 and 1821 and continued his schooling in Nova Gorica, Klagenfurt, and Ljubljana. He studied philosophy at the Classical Lyceum of Ljubljana and afterwards continued with the study of theology. He met Dr. Fran Močnik while at the Lyceum, with whom he later collaborated in the publication of Vega’s Logarithm Tables.

Between 1852 and 1860 Mihael Peternel was simultaneously carrying out the functions of headmaster and teacher of religion studies, natural studies, physics, and chemistry at the newly established non-classical secondary school in Ljubljana, which only had three grades. He was also engaged in formulating the Slovene terminology of natural sciences and planning the construction of houses, barns, hayracks, and stables. He retired in 1874 and died on 6 August 1884 in Ljubljana, where he was buried. The street named after him – Peternelova ulica – is one of the shortest streets in our capital city. The 195th anniversary of Mihael Peternel’s birth was commemorated by a festive ceremony with the unveiling of memorial plaque on 22 September 2003.

Peter Brelih

Peter Brelih, who was born in 1882 in Cerkno, originated from a progressive and fairly wealthy local family. He completed the first and second grades at the Cerkno public school, and the third and fourth grades in Škofja Loka. After graduating from the non-classical secondary school (1905) in Ljubljana he continued his studies at the German Technical College in Prague, where he majored in Actuarial Practices. His decision to study in Prague was an important step for his career and life path. During his studies in 1906 he began publishing a leaflet entitled “Slovenski tehnik” (Eng. Slovenian Engineer) with other students from Slovenia, which was then sent to Ljubljana and used as a newspaper supplement for “Slovenski narod” (Eng. Slovenian Nation) and for some other newspapers. He was also the editor (as well as the scientific editor and managing editor) and a member or vice-president and later the president of the society of Slovene engineers in Prague. He was also a member of a Slovene academic society called Ilirija in Prague. After completing his studies in Prague he returned home and engaged himself in the activities of cooperative societies in the county of Gorizia. He was a co-founder of Posojilnica in Hranilnica, a savings and loan institution, an active member of the Sokol gymnastic society, and an official in the Cerkno Mountaineering Society. He had an important role in the revival of the “laufarija” Carnival custom, which, with the help of preparatory committee, made its return in 1956. The initiative for this was given by Peter Brelih, who began visiting Cerkno in 1948 with the purpose of raising residents’ enthusiasm for the revival of this tradition.

Franc Kobal

A fellow inhabitant of the Cerkno region was born in 1920 at a homestead under Mt. Porezen. He visited primary school in Cerkno. In his 20s he was drafted into the Italian army and did a lot for the benefit of Cerkno following his return. He was also an active member of the Cerkno “laufarija”. The fundamental premise of the development of the Cerkno “laufarija” stood behind three wooden masks, the so-called “larfe”, which Peter Brelih donated to the Slovene Ethnographic Museum in Ljubljana. The missing “larfe” were the reason that encouraged the members of “laufarija” to turn to their fellow inhabitant Franc Kobal, since the memory of his grandfather Blaž Kobal (1855–1940) having made “larfe” was still very much alive in their minds. In 1955 Franc Kobal cooperated in the making of the “laufar” family, which consisted of 14 members. The desire to strengthen the then “laufar” family contributed to the creation of new carnival characters. Most “larfe” were created before 1976; and the last carnival mask, the Inkeeper, was made in 1997. From then on until today the number of “laufarji” has remained unchanged. In 2006, Franc Kobal, a fellow inhabitant of Cerkno, was posthumously awarded the Bevk award by the Cerkno municipality, two years after his death.

Andrej Kobal

World traveler Andrej Kobal, the uncle of Franc Kobal, was born on 29 November 1899 in Cerkno. He finished junior high school in Nova Gorica and soon after World War I he fled from the prison in the county of Gorizia to Ljubljana. Afterwards he worked in Slovenj Gradec for some time and then moved to America, where he earned four doctorates. Andrej Kobal wrote several poems and short stories, partly based on memories of the old homeland and partly based on the lives of his fellow countrymen in America. Following his retirement he wrote a two-part book entitled “Svetovni popotnik pripoveduje” (Eng. The Tales of the World Traveller) (Part 1 in 1975, Part 2 in 1976), in which he described his life from childhood to retirement. There are two other books that are worth mentioning, namely “Slovenec v službi F.B.I.” (Eng. A Slovene in the Service of F.B.I) and “Druge zgodbe ameriških Slovencev” (Eng. Other Stories of Slovene Americans) (1981). He was recognized as the most successful Slovene intellectual in the United States of America. He gave lectures at several universities, and among other things organized the first Slovene language courses and was an active member of various professional associations. He died on 16 March 1988 in Murnau in Bavaria.

Jakob Raspet

This painter, carver and sculptor, and gilder was born on 1 July 1836 in Cerkno. Besides the Šubic painters from Poljane he is considered to have been the most prominent representative of the carving and sculpting workshops that were established between Poljane, Cerkno, and Idrija in the 1900s (and prior to that). He made the altars in the parish Church of St. Anne in Cerkno. The interior of the succursal church in Zakriž is almost entirely his work. He was also a painter, quite good according to experts, although not distinguished for his originality. His work was important for the Cerkno region, as Raspet was the first domestic artist to gain greater recognition working in a broader area.

Josip Štravs

A carver and sculptor, Štravs was born on 3rd March 1843 in the village of Ravne near Cerkno. He was trained as a carver and sculptor by Mr. Tavčar from Idrija, who was already accomplished in this art. His work was not of the same quality as that made by Raspet, but he proved himself by making the altars in the Church of St. Bartholomew in Cerkno. He worked much more than Raspet, for a long time also in the Dolenjska region. Later in his life he took up photography in earnest. The oldest photographs of Idrija (before 1876) and Cerkno (1896) were taken by him.