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



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...

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