Our Lady of Medjugorje
Our Lady of Medjugorje (also called Queen of Peace and Mother of the Redeemer) is the title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary by those who believe that she appeared in 1981 to six Herzegovinian children in Medjugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina (at the time in SFR Yugoslavia).
|Our Lady of Medjugorje|
Statue of Our Lady of Tihaljina, often mistaken for the Gospa of Medjugorje
|Location||Medjugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina|
|Holy See approval||Pending approval by the Holy See|
There have also been continued reports of seeing the apparition and receiving messages from it during the years since. The visionaries often refer to the apparition as the "Gospa", which is Croatian for lady. On May 13, 2017, a papal response came when Pope Francis declared that the original visions reported by the children are worth studying in more depth, while the subsequent continued visions over the years are, in his view, of dubious value. He went on to say that there are people who go there, convert, find God and their lives change. He said that this is a spiritual and pastoral fact that cannot be denied.
On June 24, 1981, young Mirjana Dragićević and Ivanka Ivanković reported seeing an apparition of the Virgin Mary in a village in what is now in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The following day another vision was reported by Mirjana and Ivanka and this time four other young people reported seeing it as well: Marija Pavlović Jakov Colo, Vicka Ivanković, and Ivan Dragićević.
The children claim that they saw an apparition on Podbrdo Hill; the alleged apparition was a young woman with an infant in her arms. Surprised and scared, they did not approach. The next day at the same time four of the youths returned, and were later joined by the other two.
At the time of the first alleged apparition Vicka Ivanković was sixteen years old. She claims to have prayed and talked with Our Lady and to have been given nine "secrets". Her "prayer mission", given by the Blessed Virgin Mary, is to pray for the sick. Vicka says that her daily apparitions have not yet stopped. Vicka claims to have received a biography of Mary's life, contained in two hand written notebooks, which Vicka has said will be published when the Blessed Virgin Mary tells her to do so.
Regarding her alleged visions, Vicka Ivanković once stated:
Before, I prayed from pure habit. Now I've turned completely to prayer. I commit my life completely to God. I feel sorry for those who do not believe in God, because Our Lady wants no one to be lost. We can help each other find the right way to God. It's up to the people to obey the messages and be converted. Great things are happening here - Our Lady is among us. She wishes to attract everyone to Her Son. That's the reason She has been coming so long and so often. Here everyone feels the nearness and the love of God. As role model and example, Gospa (Mary) began, in January 1983, to tell me Her life story, which took over two years.
Reported messages and visionsEdit
Ever since Our Lady of Medjugorje first appeared to the six visionaries, they have been reporting receiving messages from the Virgin Mary asking for people to pray often, to fast, and to do penance.
Many phenomena have been reported at Medjugorje, such as the sun spinning, dancing in the sky, turning colours, or being surrounded by objects such as hearts or crosses. Eye damage from looking at the sun in Medjugorje has been reported. And some have reported miraculous cures. The tall cement cross erected on Mount Križevac (which means "Cross Mountain") has reportedly disappeared and reappeared or else glowed as if lit with lights, although there is no electricity on the mountain. Not everyone reports seeing the same miracles at the same time. Numerous supposedly miraculous healings have also been reported.
Description of MaryEdit
Franciscan Fr. Janko Bubalo questioned the visionaries and asked them to describe Mary's appearance. They claim that Our Lady appears to be 18 to 20 years old, slender and around 165 centimetres (5 ft 5 in) tall. Her face is long and oval. She has black hair. Her eyes are blue with delicate eyelashes and thin black eyebrows. She has a little nose and rosy cheeks. She has reddish thin lips and her smile is more like some indescribable gentleness. It's visible as if somehow under her skin.
Her simple dress is bluish-grey and falls freely all the way down to the little whitish cloud on which she is standing. Her veil is pure white and covers her head and shoulders. It also reaches down to the little cloud. She has a crown of twelve golden stars on her head.
Finally he asked, "Is Our Lady really beautiful, as you have said?" Their answer was, "Well, really we haven't told you anything about that. Her beauty cannot be described. It is not our kind of beauty. It is something ethereal, something heavenly, something that we'll only see in Paradise and then only to a certain degree." Visionary Mirjana, in her autobiography, says that when they asked Gospa, "How is it possible that you are so beautiful?" Our Lady gently smiled. "I am beautiful because I love," she said. "If you want to be beautiful, then love."
Official position of the ChurchEdit
As is typical for all claims of private revelation the Catholic Church follows a standard criterion for evaluating apparitions. There are two possible judgments: constat de supernaturalitate ("It is confirmed to be of supernatural origin") and non constat... ("It is not confirmed...") The Catholic Church has made successive comments on the status of the Medjugorje apparitions. Each has declared non constat; that is, it cannot confirm the supernatural nature of the apparitions. The Vatican commission set up to study Medjugorje concluded on 18 January 2014. On 7 May 2015, Pope Francis announced the results would come soon. On 11 June 2015, the Vatican's chief spokesman communicated that no decision is expected until the fall of 2015. As of the fall of 2016, no decision has been released.
On May 13, 2017, a papal response came when Pope Francis was asked by journalists about the alleged apparitions. The Pope stated "The first apparitions, which were to children, the report more or less says that these need to continue being studied." Four days later the commission on Medjugorje established in 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI and chaired by Cardinal Camillo Ruini voted 13–1 to confirm the supernatural origin of the first seven occurrences of the apparition.
However, the commission report itself is not a decision. The final decision will be made by the Pope after Polish Archbishop Henryk Hoser has completed his examination. He has been given a "special mission of the Holy See" to "acquire more in-depth knowledge of the pastoral situation in Medjugorje" and “above all, the needs of the faithful who come to pilgrimage” to “suggest any pastoral initiatives for the future.” Archbishop Hoser is expected to give the Pope his report sometime in the summer of 2017, and the Pope may possibly make a final decision on Medjugorje by the end of 2017.
Critics consider the apparitions to be a hoax, and have stated that the reports of mysterious lights on the hill could easily be explained by illusions produced by atmospheric conditions, or fires that were lit by local youths.
I acknowledge that the children’s initial encounters with the Virgin may well have been caused by personal factors. For example, Ivanka, who was the first to perceive a visitation, had just lost her natural mother. The perception of apparitional experiences spread rapidly among her intimate peer group... The region's tension and anxiety likely exacerbated this contagion process and the need to believe among the youthful protagonists.
Skeptical investigator Joe Nickell has noted that there are a number of reasons for doubting the authenticity of the apparitions such as contradictions in the stories. For example, on the first sighting, the children claimed they had visited Podbrdo Hill to smoke. They later retracted this, claiming they had gone to the hill to pick flowers. According to Nickell there is also a problem of the "embarrassingly illiterate" nature of the messages.
On May 13, 2017, in an interview on a plane back from Portugal, Pope Francis expressed his doubts of the recurring apparitions. He added "I prefer Our Lady as mother, our mother, and not Our Lady as head of the post office who sends a message at a stated time." He also said, "[T]he core of the Ruini report, the spiritual fact, the pastoral fact. People go there and convert. People who encounter God, change their lives…but this…there is no magic wand there. And this spiritual and pastoral fact can’t be ignored."
Cardinal Gerhard Müller, when he was Prefect of the CDF, prohibited a parish in Sestola, Italy from holding a prayer meeting scheduled for June 21, 2015 where Vicka Invakovic was to offer her testimony and possibly have a vision. Vicka had attended the same event in the two years previous and reportedly had visions during her time there. Müller had to remind two Italian dioceses they could not sponsor events for Medjugorje visionaries.
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- Soldo, Mirjana (2016). My Heart Will Triumph. CatholicShop Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9978906-0-0.
- The Life of the Madonna The Madonna this evening has begun to narrate her life. She tells them and they follow her in her growth. She said she will tell them, in episodes, her life. She has forbidden them to tell it to others until she has said everything. She has assigned to each of them the task to write her biography. [Kronika ukazanja (Chronicle of the Apparitions), vol. I, 07/01/1983, p. 353. Original text: Gospa večeras počela pričati svoj život. Priča im i gledaju je u njenom razvoju. Rekla im je da će im u nastavcima ispričati svoj život. O tome im je zabranila drugima pričati dok im sve ne rekne. Naglasila je svakomu od njih da piše njezin životopis.]
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- Pope skeptical about Medjugorje - ChurchMilitant.com Saturday, May 13th, 2017
- Cardinal Müller’s Letter and His Non-Renewal as Head of the CDF - FSSPX News