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



In Banja Luka and Krajina in general, there were no Serbian schools until 1831/32. Living without any schools, the people were condemned to illiteracy and backwardness. The first, and for a long time the only schools for Serbian children, were the monasteries like the Monastery of Gomionica, for example, but not many of the children were able to attend them.


There are two documents on the establishment of a Serbian primary school in Banja Luka, from the first half of the 19th century. A Turkish record shows that the Turkish government allowed the opening of a Christian school in 1831. Four years later (in 1835), a firman came from Constantinople giving permission for opening a school for Christian children, but it remains unknown whether the school was opened or not.


Mitar Papic wrote: “It is known for a fact that Serbian-Orthodox primary school has worked in Banja Luka since 1856. Since then we can regularly follow the life of this school”.


In 1862, the school worked in a one-floor building owned by the Church community and it was located near the Cell Church. In 1864, the school was moved from that building to the Radulovic-Opujic house, which was bought by the Church community from the merchant Opujic from Trieste and used for the Theological Seminary and Serbian Primary School.


In the first arrangement of the Serbian Orthodox Metropolitanate of Banja Luka and Bihac for 1901, it is said that male primary school was established in 1864 and that it had 143 students. In the female primary school, founded in the same year, there were 14 964 students.


The new building of the Theological Seminary was built in 1871 at the Imperial Road (opposite of the today's main post office, on the corner where the City Assembly is set), so the Serbian Primary School had its own space in this spacious building, the largest building in Banja Luka at the time.


Before the uprising in 1875, there were about fifty Serbian schools in Krajina, although their work was constantly interrupted by the Turkish authorities. During the uprising, the Theological Seminary and the Serbian Primary School were banned. After the uprising, the Theological Seminary has never been restored in Banja Luka, and the Serbian Primary School moved back under the vaults of its building and continued working on 1st October 1879.


In 1881, at the former Theological Seminary building, the than Serbian Primary School, the Church and school community put a panel saying SERBIAN ORTHODOX PRIMARY SCHOOL, written in big Cyrillic letters.


Aware that the new occupying power, in contrast to the last Turkish one, wanted to enslave the soul of the Serbian people, as well as the body, the Serbs struggled for the national, cultural, educational and humanitarian institutions. Relying on the Church community, they reopened the Serbian Primary School, built a Church (in 1879), and then started to renew the Serbian Reading Room, establish the Serbian Singing Association “Jedinstvo” (in English: “Unity”) in 1893, Charity Cooperative of Banja Luka’s Serbian Women (1900), the Serbian Cultural and Educational Society “Prosvjeta” (1902), organize Saint Sava’s sayings, etc.




Wanting to show itself to the world as a cultural reformer, the Austrian government made the peoples inherited in the occupied areas some small concessions that did not cost much, knowing that they could often achieve a lot without jeopardizing their own political interests. The government allowed the establishment of cultural, educational and humanitarian associations with national prefix.


Serbian singing associations, which were cultural, social and national centres in Serbia and Vojvodina, had an immense importance in preserving the national consciousness of the Serbian people under a foreign rule in Bosnia and Herzegovina.


The end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century in Bosnia and Herzegovina was the era in which singing associations were founded on the confessional and ethnic lines. At that time, Serbian Singing Association “Njegus” (1866) was founded in Tuzla, as well as “Vila” (1887) in Prijedor, “Gusle” (1888) in Mostar, “Sloga” (1888) in Sarajevo and “Jedinstvo” (1893) in Banja Luka. While these associations were developing, the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Serbian patriots helped them strengthen.


The few preserved documents indicate that the Serbian Orthodox Church Community in Banja Luka, an important cultural and spiritual centre of the Serbian nation, founded the Serbian Orthodox Church Singing Association, the latter Serbian Singing Association “Jedinstvo”, on the day of the Presentation of the Holy Theotokos, 4th December 1893.


The Serbian Orthodox Church Singing Association “Jedinstvo” and the Serbian Reading Room were the guiding stars of the Serbian people during the Austro-Hungarian occupation. Realizing that the power of all, especially the small nations, was in preserving the culture and the tradition, the Serbian Reading Room and “Jedinstvo” rose above their basic functions and became agents of the Serbian spiritual revival. During the First and Second World War, the Association was banned, and after the liberation, the communist authorities did not allow its reconstruction.




By the decree of King Alexander I Karadjordjevic, from the 6th January 1929, the former Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was divided into nine regional units (banates), and on 3rd October of the same year, it changed the name into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The reason for that was a constant political and economic turmoil in the previous country.


One of the nine banates was the Banate of Vrbas, with Banja Luka as its centre and headquarters. Of the total population of the Banate of Vrbas, 88 percent lived in rural areas. A large number of the illiterate, lack of primary schools and experts in all areas complemented a pretty bleak picture that greeted the first Ban, Svetislav Tisa Milosavljevic, on 8th November 1929 when he arrived to Banja Luka. Well informed and having an enviable military and ministerial career, as well as remembering well the words of King Alexander when he addressed him to this duty that “the Serbs there are the majority, and they are the best of the Serbs”, and that there was some important national work pending, the ban immediately accepted the job. Ban Milosavljevic, a visionary and master builder as Banja Luka had never seen before, built the administrative buildings of the splendid palace of the Ban Headquarters and the Ban Court, clerical buildings, roads, schools, parks and hospitals, the House of King Peter I the Liberator, Sokolski dom (sport-gymnastic club) of King Alexander I the Unifier, established the theatre and the museum, helped companies, launched the “Vrbas Newspaper”, significantly contributed to the completion of the monumental Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity in the city centre and was its patron at the consecration in 1939, regenerated Banja Luka and turned it into a modern European city.


In addition to the calvary that the city had suffered in World War II, the city suffered destruction even in the post-war period, but that time by a catastrophic earthquake on 22nd October 1969. After the earthquake, the city was rebuilt and has taken on a look that still adorns it.


Today, Banja Luka is the administrative, cultural and spiritual centre of the Republic of Srpska.

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