• ajvatovica

The shrine of St. John the Baptist. There is a Gothic church 7 km away from Jajce in direction Banja Luka, at the village of Podmilačje. St John the Baptist is the patron saint of the church. It was built by stone-masons from Dubrovnik in the 15th century. Its appearance is rather humble but its importance is immense – it is one of the oldest places of pilgrimage in Bosnia. This is supported by the fact that it was one of the rare churches that was not converted into a mosque by the Ottomans. On June 23rd and 24th, on St John the Baptist’s Day, Podmilačje is the place of pilgrimage for people of all denominations, the religious, the seriously or chronically ill who believe that they will find cure there. Some believers walk or even go on their knees to and around the church as a special form of doing penance.

Ajvatovica. Although this place of pilgrimage is actually representive of the ancient Prusac, which is located in the vicinity of Donji Vakuf, Ajvatovica is mentioned in this text because of its relative proximity to Jajce. This is the greatest and the oldest place of pilgrimage of Bosnian Moslems, the pilgrimage being done in honour of Ajvaz-dedo, a Turkish missionary, who arrived in Bosnia together with Sultan Mehmed El-Fatih in 1463 to spread Islam. He settled in Prusac, which, at the time, did not have any supplies of running water. According to tradition, Ajvaz-Dedo kept praying to God for 40 days to split the rock behind which he had found a spring and it actually happened. It is interesting to note that prayers for rain and fertility used to be a pagan practice, and the fact that its date is not determined by the hejira calendar, but that it is held every seventh Monday after Djurdjevdan (St George’s Day), goes in favor of the theory of pagan roots of the pilgrimage.