Његово Преосвештенство Епископ бањалучки Г. Јефрем

Епископ бањалучки Јефрем (у свијету Миле Милутиновић) рођен је у селу Буснови код Приједора, 15. априла 1944. године. Шест разреда основне школе завршио је у мјесту рођења, а VII и VIII разред у Санском Мосту, гдје потом похађа гимназију.


Служба Св. Свештеномученику Платону

Храм Христа Спаситеља Бања Лука

The construction of Christ the Saviour Cathedral Church, on the foundations of the demolished Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity, bombed and destroyed in 1941 has finally fulfilled the eternal desire of the Banja Luka Serbs to have a monumental Orthodox Church at the most beautiful place, in the heart of the town.




The strength and the will of the people to determine their faith, hope and love throughout building the churches, in which they will chant to their God, reflects in this sanctuary, as in a kind of a mirror.


The former Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity, in addition to the basic religious one, also had a memorial feature, because it was built at the place where ten Serbs and their old priest were executed in 1809, after the Masici Revolt. The today's Christ the Saviour Cathedral Church, will continue this tradition for eternity, rising prayers to the Lord for all its parishioners and the entire Serbian nation, chanting for the repose of the soul of the Bishop of Banja Luka, the holy martyr Platon and of other martyrs who had suffered for the Holy Cross, the Orthodox faith and our homeland.


During the Turkish occupation, the Orthodox Serbs were not allowed to build splendid churches, the bell could not be heard and the cross could not be seen, so the churches called the cells, such as the Pelagic's one in Banja Luka, were built in secret and hidden places.


The Austro-Hungarian occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1878 did not change a lot when it comes to Orthodox Churches in Banja Luka. On the contrary, immediately upon the entrance of the Austro-Hungarian troops into the town, they seized all the building materials prepared for the construction of the cathedral church for which the land had already been purchased. The material was used for military purposes, without any compensation, of course.


The Church Community of Banja Luka, aware of the fact that there were no Orthodox churches in Banja Luka (the two existing churches were burned by the Turks during the Bosnian uprising in 1876), was forced to build a temporary church in 1879 (near the today's multiplex “Kozara”), the Church of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, that is the Holy Trinity.


The unquenchable desire of the local Serbs to build an Orthodox Cathedral Church worthy of its people and the town, which in 1900 became the headquarters of the newly formed Metropolitanate of Banja Luka and Bihac and its first Metropolitan Evgenije (Eugene) Letica, did not perish.


And just when the people of Banja Luka thought that it was finally time to build a great church and when they formed a special Committee to manage it, the Balkan Wars prevented the fulfilment of that dream. Afterwards, World War I came and brought great adversity for the Serbs in Bosnia and Herzegovina and their houses of prayer. The arrest, internments, and the so called “High treason processes“ followed and Serbian leaders were tried on them... The Austro-Hungarian authorities took the church bells off the Orthodox churches and transformed them to artillery shells, and many religious values had vanished forever.


On 13th June 1921, at a special meeting of the Church Community Government, the issue of building a cathedral church was officially raised, which the chroniclers recorded as a significant event, not only for the Orthodox people, but also for Banja Luka, proud Krajina and the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, at that time. The preparations continued until early April 1922, when the Church Community established a special section for the raising of the church. A project of a known Belgrade architect, Dusan Zivanovic, was chosen. The Cathedral Church was not built at the site of the deteriorated temporary church, as it was previously agreed, but a piece of land, called “Jabucik”, was purchased by a waqf and it was located in the former Serbian Borough.


The work on the Church construction, which according to the plan was supposed to be finished in 3 years, officially started on 27th September 1925, and on 5th October of the same year, the Metropolitan Vasilije consecrated the foundation of the future Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity. The Church project was very ambitious and was supposed to cost eight million dinars (DIN, YUD). The Church Community made great efforts to achieve that, quite astonishing sum for that period of time, it asked the state for help, and its member, Mr Djordje Bajic, was sent to America to collect charitable contributions for the long and eagerly awaited Cathedral Church of Banja Luka. Despite all the difficulties, the money was provided, and the fact that the Commission for the technical approval stated at the minutes that the building was completed 40 days before the expiration of the three construction seasons deadline, in 1928, testified on how the people of Banja Luka were engaged in this construction.


The first divine service in the newly built church, a Thanksgiving service for the ten years since the breach of the Thessaloniki Front, was held on 15th September 1928, and until the mid 1929, the outside of the Church was completely finished.


The Cathedral Church, surrounded by a very nice low iron fence set on concrete balusters, dominated the spacious Square of Dusan the Emperor, surrounded by streets on all four sides. A low grass, ornamental shrubs and hedges were around it. The church stood on a white marble pedestal, three steps high. An oval staircase, also made of marble, led from the pedestal to the three platforms before the entrance to the church.


The Church facade was of two colours, alternating horizontal yellowish and reddish bands, and as remembered by the elderly people of Banja Luka, the church reminded them of the Monastery of Decani.


The works on the interior of the Church of the Holy Trinity began in 1938, and they engaged several academic painters - Mr Jovan Bijelić, who painted several icons for the iconostasis of the Church, Mr Svetislav Strala and Mr Veljko Stanojevic, who did the frescoes, while the draft of the iconostasis, chandeliers and woodwork was done by Mr Grigorije Samojlov and the iconostasis was hand-carved by Mr Dragutin Barac. The work was continued with the instalment of electricity, loudspeaker, microphone and mounting of a mechanism for the power ringing of the church bell, and everything was completed in 1939.


The Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity was consecrated on the day of the Ascension of Our Lord, on 18th May 1939, when a great ceremony of the Church and its people was held in Banja Luka. The Metropolitan Dositej, a legate of His Holiness the Patriarch and the administrator of the Diocese of Banja Luka pontificated at the occasion. The patron of the Church was the first Ban of the Banate of Vrbas, Svetislav-Tisa Milosavljevic. The ceremony was attended by the representatives of the Senate and National Assembly, the church, civil and military authorities, various corporations, a number of associations and over 20 000 citizens and farmers from all over the country.


The Church was built in the Serbian-Byzantine style, with five domes, while the frescoes were a good copy of the iconography of our old endowments of Mileseva, Patriarchate, Studenica... Its melodic bells were a gift of the late King Alexander the Unifier. The then press noted that the Cathedral Church in Banja Luka was one of the monumental buildings, and that “based upon the beautiful art of making, it is one of the most beautiful churches throughout the Kingdom”.


Banja Luka's Cathedral Church (dimension 22x10x19x50 meters) with its high tower (46 meters) was surrounded by the Ban Headquarters and the Ban Court during the times of the Banate of Vrbas, which made the Square of Dusan the Emperor (now the Square of the Serbian Rulers) an ornament of Banja Luka, but it also testified on the intention of the then government to emphasize the closeness between the church and the state in the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes and the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.


The people of Banja Luka did not enjoy its magnificent church for a long time. In early April 1941, at the day of the Annunciation of the Mother of God, the Germans bombed Banja Luka. On Saint Lazarus Saturday, on 12th April at 16:25 hours, the target of the German bombers was the Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity. One bomb hit the roof of the altar apse and exploded at the altar. Although, according to the experts, the damage of the Church could be repaired, the notorious commander Viktor Gutic ordered a demolition of the Church to the ground and a destruction of all traces of its existence. At the time, the Church of Saint George at the community of Petricevac was also demolished.


On 4th May of the same year, the Ustashas (The Ustasha - Croatian Revolutionary Movement) took Bishop Platon (Jovanovic) of Banja Luka and after cruel tortures, in the night between the 4th and 5th May, murdered him and thrown him into the Vrbanja River, near Banja Luka. Along with the Bishop Platon, the priest Dusan Subotic from the municipality of Gradiska was murdered as well.


In mid July, the priests who survived the tortures of the Ustasha were taken to the encampment Caprag, near the town of Sisak. The Certificates of Baptisms, Marriages and Deaths were confiscated, which was done in order to abolish every trace of the existence of the Serbian people in this region.


After the World War II, the communists did not allow the Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity in the centre of Banja Luka to be reconstructed, and they quickly decided to build a Monument to the Fallen Soldiers at the site of the former Cathedral Church.


For thirty whole years, from 1941 to 1972, the Orthodox worshipers of Banja Luka did not have a house of prayer. The construction of the today’s Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity began in 1962, at the time of the Bishop Andrew (Andrej Forusic), and it lasted until 1972. That is when the Church was consecrated, and although incomplete, it began giving service to its people, because some of the elderly worshippers were afraid that they would not live to see it completely finished.


That church, a much more modest than the demolished one, was built in the courtyard of the Bishop's residence and the desire of the people of Banja Luka to have their own monumental house of prayer in the town centre had to wait for a long time.


In 1991, after a multi-party elections and the change of the communist government, the conditions were created for the restoration of the Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity at its old foundations. In the same year, the Initiative Board was formed, which became a Construction Board two years later, with His Excellence Bishop Jefrem of Banja Luka as the president of the board and the archpriest Ratko Radujković, as the vice president.



Under their leadership, at wartime 1993, the local Serbian people mustered the strength and renewed the foundations of the Church, and on the 17th October of that year, they were consecrated by His Holiness the Serbian Patriarch Pavle, with a number of archbishops, priests and deacons, and in the presence of a large number of worshippers. The patron of the foundations was Mr Lazar Kovacevic.


The new calvary of the Serbian people and its Church during the War in Bosnia and Herzegovina delayed the continuation of the construction. The post-war years were used for fundraising, procurement and preparation of construction materials, which lasted until the jubilantly year of Christianity, 2000. Since then, Christ the Saviour Cathedral Church was resurrecting in front of the people of Banja Luka, unto the glory of God and to the joy and pride of the Serbian people.


Truth to be told, on its session, on 14th August 1997, the Board for the Construction of Christ the Saviour Cathedral Church decided to start the third phase of the work which involved building and coverage of the Church, without any handicraft. During the same year, the project of stone and all the decorative elements for the Cathedral Church was also finished. The ceremonial signing of the contract between the Serbian Orthodox Church Community of Banja Luka, as the investor, and the Construction Company „Krajina“, as the contractor, was held on 5th September 1999, when the continuation of work on the renovation and construction of Christ the Saviour Cathedral Church was officially published. It was decided that the Church would be built in three layers, brick-concrete-stone, and following the recommendation of a famous petrologist from Belgrade, professor Nenad Bilbija, a natural two-tone red and yellow travertine from Mesopotamia was chosen as the stone that would cover the Church.


The first quantity of travertine arrived to the construction site and although the construction season was already near its end, it was decided to proceed with the construction. On 5th November 1999, a short divine service, a moleben (a public prayer meeting), held at the reconstructed foundations of the future Christ the Saviour Cathedral Church, officially resumed the construction work, to the delight of the worshippers who in this act saw the foundation of their existence in this region, after the terrifying Patriotic War (War in Bosnia and Herzegovina). Unfortunately, the works could not be continued because the supplier of the stone had not complied with the terms.


The construction season of 2000 began with immense work. The third phase of the construction of Christ the Saviour Church began on 25th April of the same year, according to the earlier arrangement made with the Construction Company „Krajina“. „Krajina“, as a contractor, hired a Belgrade Company “Sarko-Engineering”, whose construction workers had mastered the specific construction technology and the Church began to grow day by day.


In the year 2000, a jubilantly year of Christianity, Orthodox believers from Banja Luka celebrated a hundred-year-anniversary of their Eparchy, as well. A double celebration was magnified by another enjoyment of praise – the canonisation of the Holy Martyr Platon, Bishop of Banjaluka, who was brutally murdered by the Ustasha on 5th May 1941. In 2001, it was planned that the construction of the Church would be continued up to the half-domes and the fifth floor of the bell tower.


Granite pillars, portals, rosettes and other ornaments made of granite and marble were placed down. Four bells, the total weight of six and a half tons, built in the famous „Grasmeyer Bell Factory“ from Innsbruck, Austria, just as those of the former Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity, arrived to Banja Luka on 15th December 2001, and the most modern clocks, made in the same factory, came with them.


The bells, the heaviest of which weighted three tons and one hundred kilograms and the easiest 760 kilograms, were based upon the bells of Saint Sava's Church at Vracar and made of the best alloy in order to achieve the cleanest sound. In August of the same year, six crosses, made of stainless steel and gold plated in the famous workshop „Dimitrijevic“ in Belgrade, arrived for the church domes and the bell tower. By the end of the construction season of 2001, the Church was walled up until the arches, the bell tower until the bifora (a mullioned window) and there were four granite pillars with bases and capitals placed inside the Church. With the completion of the construction season, the Church was protected by an improvised roof in order to wait for the work to continue in 2002.


The works on the construction of the Church were continued on 1st April 2002. On 23rd July of the same year, His Grace Bishop Jefrem consecrated the bells, which were installed on 5th August by the workers of the „Grasmeyer Bell Factory“ from Innsbruck, which produced them. The installation of the electric percussion and bell management with the help of a computer are an innovation in relation to the old bells, and in addition to classical methods of ringing, they can be programmed to play various other appropriate tunes, such as the Hymn to Saint Sava. The clocks in the tower are regulated with an electromagnetic receiver that receives radio waves from the Time and Standard Frequency Station DCF77 in Frankfurt, Germany.


Due to the delays in stone delivery and the lack of money, the Church was still not covered at the end of the construction season of 2002, as planned, and it spent the winter under an improvised roof again. In 2003, the Board for the Construction of Christ the Saviour Cathedral Church decided to work with no breaks and even after the construction season in order to make up for the lost time. They used every beautiful day to complete all the necessary work prior to the covering of the church. Four little and one big dome were constructed and the development of decorative elements on the sites, rosettes and archivolts was all done. At the end of that year, the people of Banja Luka were able to see what the Church would look like, because by the completion of the construction, the Church got a beautiful two-coloured facade and the decorations had come to the fore.


With the beginning of the construction season of 2004, the bell tower was entirely constructed, as well as all of the roof cargo wreaths and the coverage of the Church domes and the bell tower with wooden panels was completed, as well as the installation of all the smaller granite pillars with bases and capitals under the Church gallery. On Saint Prophet Elijah's Day (2nd August) of the same year, archpriest-stavrophor Ratko Radujkovic consecrated six gilded crosses, which were placed on a large dome, four small ones and the Church bell tower in the next few days. The largest cross is almost 2,5 meters high and it weighs 350 kilograms. The workers form the Russian Company „Konversia“ from the Town of Tryokhgorny, Chelyabinsk Oblast (Oblast - a Russian federal subject) in the Ural Mountains region, came to Banja Luka and the Church domes and the bell tower soon shone the golden shine, covered with gilded sheet-metal.


The size of the new Church is 22,10x19,50 square meters and of the bell tower 11x11 square meters and it is 47.10 meters high, which means that it is the tallest building in the city centre. About 20 000 positions of the travertine stone of monolith red and yellow colour was built in the Church and the bell tower.


The year of 2004 was inscribed in the history of the Diocese of Banja Luka in golden letters, because on the 26th September of that year, the first Divine Liturgy was served in the walled and roofed Church. This marked the resurrection of the Church bombed on 12th April 1941 and completely demolished in August of the same year by the order of the notorious commander Victor Gutic.


With His Eminence Metropolitan Nikolaj, who presided at the Liturgy, the Metropolitan of Povardarie Exarch of the Autonomous Ohrid Archdiocese Jovan (John), Bishop of Banja Luka Jefrem (Ephraim), Bishop of Osijecko polje and Baranja Lukijan (Lucian), Bishop of Slavonia Sava, Bishop of Hum Maksim (Maxim), Bishop of Gornji Karlovci Gerasim and Bishop of Dalmatia Fotije (Photius) also served at the Liturgy.


The magnificent ceremonial procession past through the city before the Liturgy, from the today's Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity to the new Cathedral Church, down the streets of Saint Sava and King Peter Karadjordjevic I. The procession was greeted by tens of thousands of citizens of Banja Luka, who in an espalier eminently took part in the ceremony, despite the cold weather and the constant rain which did not stop. The ceremony was attended by the highest representatives of the republic, state and city authorities, culture delegates and numerous guests from home and abroad.


Banja Luka assumed its original appearance again, its uprooted soul was returned and a new life breathed in - said Bishop Jefrem of Banja Luka in his address to the worshippers. Wanting the Cathedral to shine with its inner beauty as well, the Church Community decided that the walls and the portals should be decorated by mosaics. In late September and early October of 2005, workers of “golden hands”, the so called Crnotravci, the unmatched famous masons from Serbia, worked at the Church. They applied a special mortar surface for the mosaics on the Church walls.


Making mosaics on the portals and in the Church interior was agreed with a Belgrade painter Djuro Radulovic, an artist who gained his experience through three decades of a very successful work in this wall painting technique. His mosaics adorn the Saint Petka's Church and Saint Mark's Church, both in Belgrade, the Monastery of Ostrog, as well as the Monastery of Maine, the monastery of Saint Nicholas in Ozren in the Republic of Srpska... Radlovic is especially proud of the mosaics he depicted at the Memorial Chapel in Kamerovo, Russia. On the main portal of Christ the Saviour Cathedral Church, there is a mosaic icon of Christ, conducted by the example of the Saviour's mosaic icon in Hagia Sofia. The Theotokos with the Christ, inspired by the Monastery of Hilandar, looks at the north side of the Ban's Palace (Cultural Centre „Banski dvor“), while the icon of the Holy Trinity, inspired by the famous icon, the Old Testament Trinity from the Sergey's Larvae near Moscow, made by Andrej Rublev, shines from the southern portal towards the City Assembly. All of these mosaics were made with the Murano paste, a natural material produced in Venice, whose technology is kept as a state secret.


The floors of Christ the Saviour Church are made from the best quality granite in red, blue, white and yellow colour with ornaments, such as the floors in the Saint George's Church on top of the Hill Oplenac or the Saint Peter's Church in Rome. All the decorative elements of the Church – the rosettes, the archivolts, the small pillars with bases and capitals on all of the domes and the bell tower, as well as the fence of the Church gallery were made of white Carrara marble from Italy. The covering of the Church walls was done with the “jupa“ stone.


On the portals of the Cathedral Church in Banja Luka, an academic mosaic painter Djuro Radulovic, who has already proven his skills in making mosaics, made the mosaics in the apse of the altar, on 46,5 square meters, consisting of the following compositions: the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God, the Communion of the Apostles, the four holy liturgists and the seven medallions of the saints. These mosaics already adorn the temple of Christ the Saviour Church. The chandeliers in the Serbian-Byzantine style were made by a specialized company from Athens. The Church is illuminated by a large central chandelier with 160 bulbs, an oros of 12 segments, 24 icons and 12 lamps, as well as with four chandeliers with 40 bulbs, set under four vaults.


The iconostasis in a wood-engraving, a bas-relief and the required inventory in the same style - two cantor's stands, three thrones, three tables for the venerating icons and the tomb of Christ, were all made in the workshop “Drvo Dekoracija” in the town of Arandjelovac. The icons on the iconostasis, made in the Serbian-Byzantine style, are the work of an iconographer, priest Velimir Klincov.


The altar table, sacred vessels, crosses and other inventory needed for the Church altar, all of a beautiful workmanship and excellent quality, came from the famous Orthodox Church Shop „Sofrino“ from Moscow.


Christ the Saviour Cathedral Church will be able to receive more than a thousand believers. The Church has the most modern way of heating and cooling. Besides the Church, another, official building for the priests was constructed in the same style, because this is a “living church”, people will praise their Lord in it, come to light a candle, consecrate their special bread and a sweet boiled wheat dish (in local: žito or koljivo) for their patron saint's feast day, will be married and baptized in it...

Joomla Plugins