Pope Francis's Visit to Bosnia Herzegovina Hamza Pecar
Pope Francis

6 June was a significant day for Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina and the rest of South Eastern Europe. Pope Francis visited the capital of Bosnia Herzegovina as a pilgrim of peace and tolerance. His visit to Bosnia Herzegovina had a tremendous impact on the local people, and he was happily and warmly welcomed by the whole region, which only two decades ago was severely devastated and divided by war. 

Pope Francis first visited the headquarters of the Presidency of Bosnia Herzegovina where he attended a statesman reception with the highest military honours. He then went on a tour of the city and visited the Olympic Stadium, the Cathedral in Sarajevo, a religious school and a Franciscan monastery. Every shop along the road that the Pope traveled through was closed and all the people came out from their homes to see Pope Francis. Sarajevo saw one of its greatest churches open, placed and custom built on the Olympic Stadium Koševo. A lot of people not just from Bosnia and Herzegovina participated and contributed to the event. More than 70,000 worshipers, people from all around the world, including a small amount of pilgrims from China, were present, but most people came from neighboring countries such as Serbia and Croatia. Religious bands and choirs from Croatia and Serbia participated in a ceremony, including 1,800 singers, many of them returning to Sarajevo again for the first time after the war. The Pope's visit had a great symbolic value for everyone. 

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The city was once called the European Jerusalem by Pope John Paul II for its volume of multinational identities, religious diversity and its coexistence, which was also one of the themes and mentions from Pope Francis. His visit was something which Sarajevo and Bosnia Herzegovina have not experienced since the winter Olympics. Beside moral and spiritual importance, the Pope's visit also helped and improved the cooperation between the countries in the region. The whole ceremony was very well organized and everyone was pleased with the security and service. More than 6,000 police officers and a small amount of military staff were assigned. The entire ceremony was also covered by national television.

The visit of Pope Francis will stay in the hearts of every citizen of Bosnia Herzegovina as a reminder that peace, tolerance and diversity are great values which we must keep and watch over. As Pope Francis said, it is on these new young generations we should seek to build bridges.