The following is an interview with His Illustrious Highness Jacob, Prince of the Vlachs, which was conducted by Cecilia Shirley Lim, a Chinese Catholic author of the book “Kingdom Ecclesia” and newly appointed diplomatic representative of the Principality of Vlachia to the Republic of Singapore.
Your Illustrious Highness, could you begin this interview by telling us what was your childhood like?
I would describe my childhood as idyllic, filled with all sorts of pleasures and warmth although I was born amid the last conflicts in the Balkans in 1992. What I asked of my family, I received and was spoiled at some point. However, my grandfather Petar, thought me the value of work and self-sacrifice and how to never quit against all odds, while my grandmother Mira thought me what it means to be compassionate and love without restraint, to think open and be kind. My mother gave everything she had for me, to teach me good manners and how to behave properly, although I was a slow learner, and I can say that her right values made me into the man I am today. I also had a strong taste for adventure. I often climbed trees, went skiing off track in the woods, liked diving in Dalmatia and riding my bicycle in the forest, I also played in dangerous places like construction sites with my friends. I also remember my grandfather taking me to ride a horse on the outskirts of Zagreb, telling me how when he was a child he could stand on it while it strode.
As I understand, you were not always a Catholic, how would you comment on the reasons which led you to join the Church?
I have read most of the holy books of the world religions. I went, as a scientist to find what was the religion which had all the answers and I found it where I did not want to go, that is, at my doorstep – the Catholic Church. No other religion had the claim that God became a man in a hypostatic union, no other religion claimed that they fed the faithful with the literal body and blood of God, and it was and is the largest religion in the world for a good reason – because it was, is and will always be true. The miracles, witnesses and martyrs were without number. Trust me when I say, I had no wish to become a Christian or even a Catholic, but there was no denying after years of research that all other religions had nothing to compete with the majestic architecture, the breathtaking music, revolutionary ontology and philosophy not seen by the world until the Middle Ages. In a sense, I started with Christ and ended with Christ, as will all who sincerely search for the truth. As a consequence of these events, I was baptized on 26th March 2016 and received all the sacraments of the Church. To this day I believe that to have been my best decision in life.
Throughout your life, did you live knowing you were a Prince or is it something that you found out?
I was not aware that I was a Prince since I never was one, nor was my family a princely house. The House of Bulat is an old Vlach noble family from the Cetina region, that was made poor in centuries of war, and were never confirmed as noblemen by the Republic of Venice and Austro-Hungary under whom they lived, like many other old families, since we were discriminated in both states and seen as lesser noblemen. Actually I never even heard about the Vlachs until I was 17 years old, and my high-school friend from Dalmatia with whom I sat in class used the term “Vlach” in a derogatory sense for another classmate and explained that the term denotes uncivilized mountain-dwellers. Little did we both know that my own people were being insulted. My grandfather Petar pl. Bulat always espoused a Serbian identity due to his Orthodox faith and the fact that his father, my great-grandfather Stevan Bulat was the first victim of Fascism in the Banija region of Croatia and was brutally murdered while returning to his village, after he was burned while working in the fields and denied medical help in the local hospital because of his ethnic origins.
Could you tell me something about the culture of the Vlachs? Are there any unique foods or music?
The Vlachs were never completely isolated, and they took on foreign cultural influences as any other historical people on the planet. Influenced as Romanized Celts by the Thracians, Dacians, Macedonians, Greeks and Illyrians. For a people with a legacy of twenty-three centuries, the Vlachs have a rich culture and folklore, compromising of both dances and beautiful folk costumes, and are known to have a diverse music tradition. Sadly, a large part of the association of the Vlachs comes from the shamanic rituals they still practice which are called collectively as “Vlach magic”. There exists a great tradition of sausages and various types of fruit-brandy, as well as wines, stews and pies many of which even I myself have sadly never tried. It will be my special mission to make an annual conference, once the administration centre for the state has been built, which will preserve these traditions and show them to the world. Perhaps a culinary festival will be part of this.
Do you as head of the state plan to support the repopularisation of the Tridentine Mass? What are your comments on the current situation in Christendom?
The Principality of Vlachia is a new, but traditional Catholic monarchy, as such it stands for all the moral and spiritual teachings of the Holy Roman Church, but also in obedience to its head, the Holy Father, the Bishop of Rome who is the successor of St. Peter. As such, the Principality of Vlachia shall do all in its capacity to evangelize both East and West, which are visibly becoming more pagan and corrupt before our eyes. The Tridentine Mass shall be promoted through the orders of chivalry the state, namely the Order of the Holy Cross of Christ, but so will the Eastern liturgy since the state can be seen as a platform for a reunification of East and West. Pope Benedict XVI said “The Christian of the future is a mystic” and I believe this could be the best summary of our whole problem, Christianity has become too “normal” as it has been constantly pushed into categories which are acceptable to people not willing to engage in the quest for holiness. These categories have nothing to do with the essence of our faith, which is the faith of men and women thrown to the lions while confessing Christ to the last breath. I believe the Church does a good job at opposing the world in its worldry sins, and that it should firmly continue to do so, but there are always wolves in sheep’s clothing who undermine this mission.
Your Illustrious Highness, you established the Principality of Vlachia to safeguard the heritage of your people and to enforce a strict theocracy on all races of the world where God will exclusively be adored and loved. Why is the state also a half-democracy and what purpose does that serve in a monarchy?
My belief is that no state can ever be perfect, simply because mankind is not perfect. The Old Testament teaches us that often it was at the hard times for Israel that God was blessing them the most, and at the times they were prosperous they easily sank back into paganism and idolatry. With such a dynamic in mind, I have created with the Principality of Vlachia as a state where moral truths can not be declared true or false by a popular vote, since authority can not come from below, but from above i. e. from divine revelation. Our values as Christians and monarchists are rooted in the timeless teachings of the Church, but that does not mean we are blind and idolize our leadership, our prince and the citizens. We are all sinners in need of repentance, in need of a deep and honest conversion of mind, soul and spirit. Therefore, a democratic process must be kept in order for the citizens to have a mechanism to combat bad rule which is an ever-present threat, but also the citizen of such a state must become knowledgable to be a functional citizen, while at the same time they are obliged to respect the Christian nature of the state, the moral compass enshrined in the constitution of the Principality of Vlachia.
How will you deal with other religions and political agencies that do not agree with you? Will Vlachia ever become a military power?
What most people have forgot is how to have a good and constructive argument about religion and the functions of the state, because all has been through years of the modern political discourse, reduced to anti-intellectual labels which serve no other purpose but to achieve the mobilisation of political groups for the greater goals of those in charge. The beauty and truthfulness of Catholicism is discovered in its universality and call to individual holiness, but also in its ability to organically blend into any culture it comes into contact with, transfiguring all of the native symbols and traditions into a Christian way of life. The Principality of Vlachia is politically neutral and will serve as a medium in diplomatic relations when it sees an opportunity to act, we do not believe war causes good, but we also uphold that ancient teaching of the Church that “just war” can take place in matters of self-defense.