The newly built church of Our Lady of Angels in the village of Vesela Straza near the central Bosnian town of Bugojno is a true example of coexistence, tolerance and good neighborly relations. It was built by Husein Smajic, a Bosniak, who discovered the foundations of a medieval church on his property. Fellow citizens praise his work and hope for better future in this local community.
In 2014 Smajic discovered the foundations of a medieval Catholic church on his property in Vesela. Acting on advice of the retired Cardinal Vinko Puljic, he decided to build a new church of peace, love and respect.
“I first proposed to the cardinal that we build the church as it was. However, he told me that it is not in practice to build on the foundations of an old church but to donate a part of the land to build a church or a chapel, which I did. The church that was built is a church of peace, respect, tolerance, and love. That's how I built it, we can't live any other way,” Smajic told N1.
Bosnian Queen Jelena, or the Helen of Bosnia, also lived in this area. This is where a monument was built in her honour. On the feast of Our Lady of the Angels, in the presence of more than a thousand people, the newly built chapel was blessed by retired Cardinal Puljic.
“Our people is especially devoted to Our Lady. I believe it is on this Day of Our Lady, when complete forgiveness can be achieved, bring this world together,” he said.
Construction of the church is still not completed. However, it has already become a symbol of mutual respect. The citizens of Bugojno share this opinion.
“It's the real thing. I heard that they do it a long time ago, there used to be a church here, 400-500 years ago. He (Smajic) discovered those foundations. That is commendable. It is an example of how one should live in the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina, not only in Bugojno,” one of the locals said.
Departure of young people remains a top issue for Bugojno but also for the rest of the country. Perhaps Husein Smajic's story will inspire them and encourage them to build their lives in Bosnia and Herzegovina.