Visitors who enter the abbatical church Maria Stern for the first time remain speechless. That tremendous space, those light colours, the unusual artistic incarnation is certainly something you did not expect. Actually, there is no similar church in the whole Bosnia and Herzegovina to this church that is for 30 years a parish church as well.
It was built in unusually short period: on August 20, 1925 the foundation was formed, and already a year later the construction was over and the arch was made. The first plan for its construction was made by a monk from the convent, an architect, brother Eberhard (Wegnandt), who built twenty more churches (smaller) in the surrounding of Banja Luka. The plan was thoroughly elaborated by an architect from Munich- Bruno Diamant. Old Christian and Roman elements shape a huge space of three-vessel basilica in a strictly calculated, original way, concerning the fact that the central vessel is sixty meters long and ten meters high. It is also original that it was made as conventional church, for the community, which after the World War I became meager, and counted 150 members.
What is so special about the church, is its artistic, plastic equippedness- the sculpture is more of an addition to the architecture than a decoration. Regardless of how often you come to this church, you can always discover something new. The view is attracted by eight most imposing large contours sideways on the central vessel, which represent the scenes from the Old and New Testament, and four smaller contours in the transverse vessel, which are more allegoric.
From the whole of 24 capitals there are no two identic capitals on the pillars. Further more, they show the founders of the Cistercian order, the founder of the Maria Stern and its former abbots. The splendid carved choir benches, also the knowledge of Bruno Diamant, where firstly found in the central vessel. Little doors of the sacristy, made by the draft of Bruno Diamant and decorated with sixteen semi-gems, were stolen in 1988.
The sacristy of the church is unique: a huge room is all made from the nut tree, and twenty priests could simultaneously prepare for the mass. “The sense for decoration of the space, modest decoration and virtuose workmanship give this object an exceptional value“, wrote the historian of the art Smail Tihić in a study on the church of Maria Stern. He calls the sacristy a crown of wood carving knowledge of Bruno Diamant. The works of Bruno Diamant in Maria Stern had an unusual destiny.
The main altar was ruined in the earthquake in 1969, but its parts were used in other places, and monumental free plastic was alocated to ist position (a great Crucifixion), which stood in the cemetery in the churchyard. The unusual destiny of one of his works lies in an unbelievable miracle, that it remained preserved: 2,6 meters high statue of the saint Mary with the child stands unfastened in one alcove, up in the sanctuary (Presbyterian church). The church was damaged during both big earthquakes and the saint Mary was not. The visit to the convent of Maria Stern is included in the program of sightseeing, and in this way you can meet the needs of these unusual people and visit permanent exhibition setting of photographies of “140 year of Trapist“.