Holy Land Herzegovina Pilgrimage Route: Trebinje – Mostar – Medjugorje

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Herzegovina is small on the surface, but there are many pilgrimages and holy places here that have been walked by enlightened and holy people.

One small town in Herzegovina, Medjugorje, became a famous shrine after the Virgin Mary appeared to six young people in 1981. Since then, Medjugorje has become one of the most famous Roman Catholic pilgrimage destinations in the world, and has caused the town to steadily develop religious tourism. It is believed that Medjugorje is annually visited by millions of tourists and, along with Sarajevo and Mostar, is one of the most important tourist centers in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Besides Medjugorje, there are several important pilgrimage sites in the region of Herzegovina that are not so well known.

In southern Herzegovina, 7km from Trebinje, is the Monastery of St. Peter and St. Paul, one of the oldest monasteries in the region, dating from the early Christian period (4th-6th century). It is under state protection as a national monument. A two kilometer walk from the monastery is Paul’s cave, where St. Paul christened people and spent some time on his way to Rome. Inside the cave there is a small lake, and it is believed that the water from this lake is healing.

In the Popovo field in the village of Mrkoljici was born Stojan Jovanvic, later known as Basil of Ostrog, who was the Metropolitan Bishop of Herzegovina in Tvrdos Monestery and who established the Ostrog Monastery in Montenegro, which is the most well-known and visited monastery in Montenegro. What is unique about that monastery is that located in the mountainous beams is a church within a cave that preserves the body of St. Basil.  People of all faiths come to prayer here for its healing powers. If you are ever on the pilgrimage road from Trebinje, refer to Mostar: here you can visit the village Mrkonjic and the native house (church) of St. Basil. On the same road in the municipality of Ljubinje is the village Bancici, where there is a sacred green oak tree; according to tradition, St. Sava rested in the shade of the tree on a hot summer day and blessed that tree to always be green. So this oak remains green even in autumn and winter when all of the leaves are falling. The village of Bancici where the green oak is is also known for the longevity of the people who live there – it is a village of centenarians.

In Krajsina, near town Stolac, lies the tomb of Rabbi Moshe Danona. The Rabbi’s tomb is considered a sacred place for Jews – the Bosnian Sephardic. Mosa Danon was the Rabbi in Sarajevo, a Kabbalist and Hasid. According to the data, the Sarajevo Rabbi Moshe Danon with ten of his closest scholars were imprisoned  in a tower by Ottoman governor Mehmed Rushdi Pasha. But the members of the Jewish community were freed through the joint rebellion and petition of citizens of Sarajevo of all religious beliefs.  Rabbi Danon, who believed in truth and justice throughout his entire stay in prison, vowed that afterward he would go on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Mosa Danon died on the way to Dubrovnik port in 1830, so his bones rest in Herzegovina.

Muslims and other pilgrims visit Tekke on the Buna River in Blagaj near Mostar in large numbers. It was built 600 years ago by dervishes who came from Anatolia. The Tekke is the grave in which Sari Saltuk was allegedly buried.Today, the Tekke on the Buna River is one of the most visited tourist attractions in this region in addition to the Old Bridge in Mostar.Every Thursday in Tekke, organized dervish ceremonies of dhikr take place, and each May is organized the religious event of mevluda where, in addition to the dervishes, tens of thousands of people from different countries and regions come to participate.