Devout Muslim craftsman carves special chair for Pope Francis

A devout Muslim craftsman was granted the honor of hand carving a special chair that Pope Francis will sit on during his visit to Bosnia.

Salem Hajdarovac said he did not sleep for a week because of excitement. He will be assisted by his 33-year-old son Edin who said making chair for the pope brings him extreme happiness.

“It makes me extremely happy, because to make the chair for such a person is a huge and important thing,” Edin gushed.

Pope Francis is scheduled to visit and hold mass in Sarajevo on June 6 intended to boost efforts toward brotherhood in Bosnia that was ravaged by war twenty years ago.

The father and son craftsmen started working on the special chair on Monday, March 30, in their family-run workshop in the central Bosnian town of Zavidovici. 61-year-old Salem said they have put other orders on hold so they can focus on producing the perfect chair and finish it before the pope’s arrival.

The Hajdarovac family has been carving decorations for mosques and churches and religious souvenirs for visitors of the Catholic Medjugorje Shrine, but hand carving the special chair for Pope Francis was seen by Salem as the highlight of their careers.

The chair’s design is a secret, Salem said, but revealed they will use wood from a walnut tree. The pope’s coat of arms and emblems of the three Bosnian cathedrals will be depicted on the special chair.

A local priest, Miro Beslic, said his flocks agreed to pay for the materials to be used for the special chair. The Hajdarovacs will carve the chair for free.

“The whole country is in financial crisis, but once people understood that this is about the pope … then people accepted the idea,” Beslic said.

Francis was viewed by many Bosnians, including Muslims, Catholics and Christian Serb Orthodox, as a worthy pope similar to their view of Pope John Paul II, who is perceived as a champion of inter-faith cooperation and peace.