Medjugorje is the second longest Marian apparition in the history of Christianity, and by far the most unique for many reasons. The longest apparitions were in Laus, France, and lasted a total of fifty-four years (1664-1718) to a young girl by the name of Benoite Rencurel in Saint Etienne-Le-Laus. Our Lady’s apparitions in Medjugorje began on June 24, 1981, the Feast of St. John the Baptist, ushering in New Times as first the Baptist did when he announced in the time of Jesus that the Kingdom of God was coming to the world. The next day, June 25th, Our Lady appeared again and to this day is giving messages like never before in history. At Medjugorje the major spokesperson is not Jesus, but His Mother. She is the daughter of the Father, the Mother of the Son, and the Spouse of the Holy Spirit. Our Lady does not move without the permissive Will of the Most Holy Trinity. Our Lady came to Medjugorje with a specific mission for the salvation of all mankind.
Medjugorje has confounded secular observers and others alike for many reasons. Many theologians, and believers in general, bring an unreasoned, preconceived bias of the supernatural as an ingredient in the spiritual journey. Yet the entire anthology of the Roman Catholic Church and people we call saints demonstrate that the miraculous and mystical were often commonplace. Saints are people of great conviction and holiness and courage, suffering under extremely adverse circumstances. It is primarily for these reasons they were raised up as examples for people to emulate.
In the early years the village of Medjugorje had similar circumstances of difficulty and the mystical was present from Day One. The supernatural became commonplace and conversions were profound and extraordinary. Yet many still do not believe, and many more still doubt for intellectual reasons often rooted in pride. The issue is that we are witnessing a modern-day gift to the world in tumultuous times and rational logic and reason will not bring anyone to the realization of this mystical and supernatural gift to all humanity. It reminds me of what Bernadette Soubirous said of Lourdes, “to those who do not believe, no explanation is possible. To those who do believe, no explanation is necessary.”
There have been apparitions like Lourdes (1858), and Fatima (1917), where millions over the centuries have journeyed, but none have seen the general excitement and interest of Medjugorje for many reasons. First, as the phenomena occurred at the tail-end of the twentieth century, the widespread air travel, internet, and thousands of conferences world-wide in the 1980’s and 90’s principally centered around Medjugorje, allowed easy dissemination of information globally through the new millennium of the year 2000. At this time there have been a myriad of all forms of social media bringing attention to the village, and most importantly the messages. Second, as already mentioned, is its longevity. Third are the messages themselves.
Why: A Great Plan for the Salvation of Mankind
Any student of journalism will ask the basic questions of Who, What, When, Where, and Why. For Medjugorje, we know What it is, Where it is, Who is involved, and even How it evolved to a modern day phenomena like no other. What must be explored more incisively is Why? Why of all places in the world, did Our Lady come to a remote obscure hamlet in the mountains (with tremendous cost of travel and difficulty to get there, yet with so many repeat pilgrims making the trip)? Why now at this point in history?
The Why must be looked into deeper to understand what has and is still taking place there. The Blessed Mother said, “I have a great plan for the salvation of mankind, and I come to tell you God exists.She said she is “appearing like never before in history, and will appear in every home if necessary.”
Mirjana once said, (date unknown) “While the last secrets will be dramatic, moreover, the Virgin Mary also prophesied that a new and better world will be born of the secrets. Announced by the Virgin Mary as the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart, this new way of life on earth will crown her apparitions in what she foretold will be an era of peace. This is an extremely hopeful message that new and glorious times await us as we are in this painful time of transition. Heaven has its own timetable and plan for a global reset to counter Satan’s plan. It is the battle of darkness versus light.
Ivanka once asked Our Lady why she came to Medjugorje and she replied, “because there are good believers here.” At another time, the children asked why have you chosen us who have nothing special, and she replied, “I do not choose the best.” Some have made the journey dozens of times over the past several decades leading groups of people because they believe that visiting Medjugorje increases the odds for a favorable result of a conversion of a friend or loved one. Medjugorje is simply a powerful place of grace. Testimonies abound of profound conversions while there. A great deal of information is written about the lives of the six visionaries. This is normal for people to inquire and want to know about their lives, but the most important issue is why? To understand that we must ask what is the purpose of Our Lady’s coming, and what is she trying to communicate to the world? What is she saying? What are her messages?
The History of Cross Mountain: A Faithful Generation
All the way back in the 1930’s, Saint James Parish wanted to consecrate the parish to Jesus Christ the Redeemer of the world, to protect people from evil, and especially hailstones that would destroy their harvests so frequently. Cross Mountain until 1934 was called Sipovac. To honor God the town people wanted to build a cross. Under the supervision of their pastor by the name of Fr. Bernardin Simojian they decided to build a cross on the top of the mountain. Father Simojian wrote in his diary, “lime, water, cement, iron, wooden material, and sand had to be taken up to that altitude, on the back of those people.” A small relic of the true cross was sent from Rome to be built into the cross. The cross was completed on March 15, 1934. It was on that day it was renamed from Sipovac to Cross Mountain. It was a cement cross, 520m above sea level, and 8.56m tall. The parish wrote on the cross, “To Jesus Christ, Redeemer of mankind, as a sign of their faith, love, and hope, raised by the parish of Medjugorje, and the parish priest Father Bernardine.” And at the very end it said, “From every evil, deliver us Lord.”
Cross Mountain testifies to the history of, and fidelity to, the faith of Medjugorje residents over decades. There are reasons why things happen in life, and this historical fact is significant to understand why the Blessed Mother said she chose this place: because of the faith of the people. Forty-seven years prior to 1981, the grandparents of the visionaries and village parishioners erected a permanent sign to their fidelity and faith in Jesus Christ. Wherever the Son is, the Mother is too. “And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation” (Luke 1:50).
Medjugorje and Yugoslavia: War Is Imminent
Medjugorje was not only remote, it was simple by any western standard in 1981. The way the parents of the visionaries, and the visionaries themselves, were raised is anathema to our way of living. Most people in Medjugorje didn’t get electricity and indoor plumbing until 1969, the year Neil Armstrong walked on the moon and came home safely. Homes were largely made of cinder blocks with primitive roofs. Most modern conveniences were largely non-existent. Screens and air conditioning only became more common place as greater numbers of pilgrims and the inquisitive journeyed there. Chickens, goats, and livestock also disappeared from front lawns as the years went on. The only cash crop was growing tobacco in small quantities.
Into this simple community, she came under the title as the Queen of Peace. The six young children (visionaries) didn’t understand the meaning at first because Medjugorje at the time was a village of tranquility and peace. But, as we know that would soon change with the war that came to the surrounding area. The war began in April of 1992, and ended in December 1995, and was the biggest conflict in Europe since World War II. It was at one point within several miles of Medjugorje itself.
The Balkans, including Yugoslavia, had suffered greatly under the tyrannical dictator, Josip Broz “Marshal” Tito. Tito broke with Stalin in 1948 but had served in the Soviet military after the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. Tito governed Yugoslavia as a Soviet-style communist revolutionary from 1953 to his death in May of 1980, less than a year before the Our Lady’s first appearance. Yugoslavia was made up of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia. Tito had governed the region under his tight control and his death was instrumental in the breakup of the county into smaller states. The several countries and provinces that made up the Balkans as a region were in turn made up of warring tribes of profoundly disparate ethnic, religious, and cultural identities that had fought out their differences in fratricidal wars for hundreds of years. The population was comprised of Muslims, Orthodox, and Christian depending on where you lived. It was a large cauldron boiling with rage from past grievances when the war broke out.
This is the underlying political climate in the region surrounding Medjugorje when the Blessed Mother first appeared in 1981. They suffered and knew hardship. Hatred had built up for generations much like we saw in the Rwandan genocide of 1994, where neighbors for years turned on each other and slaughtered one another overnight with an estimated 800,000 dead in approximately 100 days. Under Tito, this is the political, social, and economic order lived under by the families in Medjugorje for so long. It was Our Lady Queen of Peace who freed the people from communism as well as the former USSR and Eastern Europe.
Message for Medjugorje: Message for the World
On June 25, 1993 Ivanka said, “The Virgin showed me horrible things that will happen soon. She asked us to abandon [ourselves] to her Son with prayer.” The next day Ivanka said, “The Virgin showed me horrible indescribable events. What I saw did not concern the secrets. These things are imminent and concern the world in general. It is like a new warning, because these grave events can be changed with fasting and prayer. Conversion and abandonment to Jesus are more necessary than ever. Do not remain blind: you are unconscious, be converted. God desires that we persevere on this path.”
Again, and again we see in the messages that focusing on prayer and her Son through a personal transformation is the key to what she is conveying to the world. It is actually just that, a simple message with profound implications for all humanity if we heed her call. Our Lady said it was the people being so devout in the village which was a reason why she chose Medjugorje. In addition, the people are from a very multi-ethnic and diverse background, and have also suffered for their faith, which would happen again when they endured the oncoming Bosnian War.
The rest of this article can be found in Signs and Wonders Volume 31#1/2. Become a member today to receive this issue!