Guide through the Shrine of the Queen of Peace Medjugorje
Date: March 27, 2004
Content of the article
“We bishops, after a three-year-long commission study accept Medjugorje as a holy place, as a shrine. This means that we have nothing against it if someone venerates the Mother of God in a manner also in agreement with the teaching and belief of the Church. Therefore, we are leaving that to further study. The Church does not hurry.”
His Eminence Cardinal Dr. Franjo Kuharić, Archbishop of Zagreb
(Glas Koncila, August 15, 1993)
The Parish of Medjugorje and Our Lady's Apparitions
The Parish of Medjugorje
The parish of Medjugorje is situated in Herzegovina, 25 km southwest of Mostar. Medjugorje, (the name is of Slavic origin, and signifies a region between two mounts) with the villages of Bijakovići, Vionica, Miletina and Šurmanci, forms a Roman-Catholic parish where today (in 2002) about 4000 inhabitants live. The pastoral care of the parish is confided to the priests of the Herzegovinian Franciscan Province of the Assumption of Mary.
The whole region is inhabited by Croatians who received Christianity 13 centuries ago. In historical documents, the village was mentioned in 1599 for the first time. The present parish was founded in 1892 and dedicated to St. James the Apostle, protector of pilgrims.
Until June 24, 1981, Medjugorje lived like all other villages of this region: people worked on their land, planted tobacco and vineyards, produced wine and vegetables to acquire just enough for a modest life for their families. Because of social circumstances, many went out into the world: over the ocean and to Western European countries, as well as into towns in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia.
Our Lady's Apparitions
In 1981, when the apparitions started, the life of the parish changed: Our Lady chose for her witnesses and co-workers not only the six visionaries, but the entire parish and its pilgrims. This was expressly told in the following message:
“I have chosen this parish in a special way and I wish to lead it.”
( March 1st, 1984 )
On June 24th, 1981, at about 6 pm, six young people - Ivanka Ivanković, Mirjana Dragićević, Vicka Ivanković, Ivan Dragićević, Ivan Ivanković and Milka Pavlović, saw on the hill called Crnica, several hundred meters above the place called Podbrdo, a young woman with a child in her arms, who gave them a sign with her hand to come nearer. Surprised and scared, they did not approach her.
The next day, June 25th, 1981, at the same time, four of them: Ivanka Ivanković, Mirjana Dragićević, Vicka Ivanković and Ivan Dragićević, felt strongly drawn towards the place where they had seen the person the day before which, they had recognised as Our Lady. Marija Pavlović and Jakov Čolo joined them. The group of Medjugorje visionaries was formed. They prayed and spoke with Our Lady. This is why June 25th is celebrated as the Anniversary of the apparitions. According to the testimony of the visionaries, from that day onwards, they had daily apparitions, together or separately, wherever they were. Milka Pavlović and Ivan Ivanković never saw Our Lady again.
The third day of the apparitions, June 26th, 1981, Our Lady gave the call to peace for the first time with the words:
Peace, peace, peace – and only peace! Peace must reign between God and man and between men!
Attracted by Our Lady’s apparitions and messages, people – first the parishioners and then from other villages and from all over the world – started to gather and pray.
The persecution of the visionaries, of their parents and relatives, of the parishioners and priests, and even of the pilgrims began immediately after the beginning of the apparitions. The visionaries were taken for police investigations and psychiatrical examinations, but it was always stated that they were healthy. The same conclusion brought about further examinations done in the following years.
Fr, Jozo Zovko, pastor of Medjugorje at that time, was arrested a month and a half after the first apparition. Although innocent, he was condemned by a communist court to three years and a half of prison.
Thanks to Our Lady’s apparitions, Medjugorje – a simple village parish – became a place of gathering for a multitude of pilgrims from the whole world (in the first 20 years, more then 20 million), and one of the biggest prayer centres in the world, comparable to Lourdes and Fatima. Innumerable witnesses say that, precisely in this place, they have found faith and peace.
According to the unanimous witness of the visionaries, Our Lady gives them messages to be transmitted to the parish and to the world. They mainly address PEACE, FAITH, CONVERSION, PRAYER AND FASTING. The parishioners and the pilgrims have to become witnesses of Our Lady’s apparitions and messages first, and then, together with the visionaries, join her in the realisation of the plan of the conversion of the world and its reconciliation with God.
At the end of 1982, Our Lady addressed herself through inner locutions (locutio cordis) to two ten years old girls, Jelena and Marijana Vasilj. Through their prayer group, she gave - from 1983 to 1987 - counsel to the prayer movement that was created from the very beginning of the apparitions.
Our Lady's messages given in Medjugorje constitute a specific school of peace, of prayer and of love.