I suckled the love for folk things almost with my mother’s milk.
Milko (Mihovil) Cepelić was born in Vuka near Đakovo on September 21, 1853, into a family of craftsmen of Slovak origin (Cepely). He completed his studies in philosophy and theology in Đakovo and spent most of his priestly life assisting Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer in Đakovo, where he performed various diocesan duties at the cathedral and in the parish. The Holy See awarded him the honorary titles of papal chamberlain and apostolic protonotary. He died in Đakovo on March 26, 1920.
In addition to pastoral work, Cepelić sought to contribute to the betterment of society through his engaged cultural and political work. His thought was strongly influenced by Bishop Strossmayer and the bishop’s domestic and foreign associates – intellectuals, artists, and patriots. Cepelić wrote works on historical, ethnographic, and socio-economic topics, crafted biographies of contemporary writers, and collected and published heroic folk poems. He spoke five languages and was an excellent speaker and preacher as well as a good connoisseur of native flora and fauna. In politics, Cepelić was a faithful follower of Strossmayer’s ideas and a supporter of the solution of the Croatian national question within the South Slavic state-building framework. He ran in two elections for the Parliament (1897 and 1901).