Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Sacred Heart Cathedral - Sarajevo

Sacred Heart Cathedral in Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina is the seat of the Archbishop of Vrhbosna. It was modeled after Notre Dame de Paris. Work on it started in 1884 and it was completed in 1889.
Sacred Heart Cathedral from the back.
Sacred Heart Cathedral from the front.
The front entrance.
Near the entrance looking back toward the altar. Unusual pink stripes and light blue.
Looking back toward the entrance. The organ above partially hides the rose window. 
A side altar with closer view of light blues and pinks.
The ceiling in light blue with patterns. 
Murals reflect the light blues and pink.

Even the stained glass catches some of the light blue.
The Archbishop of Vrhbosna is a diocese or ecclesiastical territory that was formed in the 11th century. The Catholic church was later evicted from Bosnia in the 13th century and it was on hiatus until the 19th century when it was reinstated by Archbishop Josip Stadler, a Croatian, who was appointed by Pope Leo XIII. Sacred Heart was built under Stadler's direction and it now houses his grave. Pope John Paul II visited Sarajevo in April 1997. News articles of the time indicate that this was the Pope's most difficult of his 75 previous trips as pope to different places around the world. More than 20 explosive devices were found planted (and disarmed) under a bridge along the pope's route from the airport to Sarajevo.  Articles noted that the pope spoke while "seated before shell-damaged stained glass windows in the Sacred Heart Cathedral." While there the pope prayed at Stadler's grave. Stadler is now a candidate for sainthood, the process started five years after the pope's visit, in June 2002.
The statue of Josip Stadler stands beneath a mural and before his grave with a vase of flowers on it.
Part of the mural looks like it represents Sarajevo, looking down on it from the hills above. The cathedral is visible in the background between the man in the red shirt and the girl in the green shirt.
Josip Stadler
A plaque commemorating the visit of Pope John Paul II
During the Siege of Sarajevo, from April 5, 1992 to February 29, 1996, Bosnian Serbs, primarily Orthodox Christians, who wanted to create a new Bosnian Serb state of Republika Srpska, surrounded Sarajevo in the nearby hills with a siege force of 13,000. Before the siege, in 1990, the Catholic archdiocese had 528,000 members. When the pope visited in 1997, just a year after the siege ended, the numbers had dropped to 200,000. Bullet holes still pock-mark the outside of the cathedral and at least one "Sarajevo Rose" is still visible outside the cathedral. A Sarajevo Rose is a concrete scar caused by a mortar shell's explosion later filled with red resin. They only filled the scar with red resin when the mortar explosion killed one or more people. As the asphalt is getting replaced, the roses are disappearing.
Sarajevo Rose: where a mortar exploded and killed one or more people.
One of the motifs in the cathedral is a leaf with three lobes. It is used as a design element in many different places. The three-leaf clover has been described as an example of the trinity, one clover, three lobes. I assume that these may offer the same representation. 
Leaf with three lobes on the ceiling.
Leaf with three lobes in pattern under an arch.
As a pattern in wallpaper.
The same pattern in different colored wallpaper.
Carved in wood at the end of a pew, in threes.
A little more disguised as the base of a light fixture.
Another pattern with three lobes and each lobe having three lobes.
The current Archbishop is a cardinal, Vinko Puljic. In May 2012, Cardinal Puljic warned of an uncertain future for Christians in Sarajevo. Before the Bosnian War, Roman Catholics were 18% of Bosnia & Herzegovina's population. Orthodox were 35% and Muslims were 44%. More than 100,000 people lost their lives during the war and the Dayton peace accord effectively gave governmental control to the Muslims. Cardinal Puljic says that Muslims now comprise 85% of Sarajevo and Christians now are only 2% and the Christians are facing substantial discrimination. 


  1. Those pink stripes are definitely interesting. I can't say I'm crazy about them...

    Sad to see another reminder of the conflict in that part of the world in the Sarajevo Roses.

  2. I hadn't picked up on that leaf motif. I'm guessing it has some tie-in to the Trinity. I will remember this cathedral for the mortar shell damage in the wall and that Sarajevo Rose on the sidewalk. The interior is a wonderful symbol of the spirit of rebuilding that is Sarajevo.