Our first stop on a visit to the city of Mostar (the capital of Hercegovina, 40 minutes out of Medjugorje) was to a Franciscan convent – home to 30+ nuns.
On arrival, our attention was drawn to something black and white moving in a clump of olive trees on the far side of the convent garden. Thinking it needed closer inspection, we were diverted from our original destination (being Holy Mass in the convent chapel), detoured into the garden and found six nuns harvesting olives; one up a tree giving branches a good shake and others below with rakes and nets, gathering them all up.
We were sure that the lovely sisters would naturally embrace our enthusiasm to be involved. Even though we probably slowed things down considerably, they were good sports and let us help them tip the olives into buckets and roll up the nets - no language translation necessary.
After fifteen minutes of aiding the Croatian olive oil industry, we moved inside for our group Mass in their beautiful chapel within the convent walls.
The new convent was in stark contrast to the bombed ruins of the franciscan nuns’ former convent standing only metres away on the same property.
Once a large and imposing structure, the original convent is now a ruined shell, standing as testament to a horrible war that devastated the region in the early 1990’s. The nuns convent was destroyed as were many catholic monasteries and convents in the region. With no home left, it was the generosity of countless pilgrims over the years and extremely generous benefactors that saw their convent rise out of the ashes to become the lovely dwelling it is today.
The community salvaged what they could out of the carnage and now all the artifacts they were able to save are placed in a small museum room within the convent walls. After Mass and refreshments, we were able to view their museum exhibit.
After bidding farewell to the sisters, we visited to the old town of Mostar and its famous bridge before returning to the holy valley.
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Patricia is a pilgrim and encourages others to discover the timeless and biblical way of pilgrimage. As the pilgrim's pilgrim, she reports from the field, knowing The Way, showing The Way and going The Way.