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Sunday, 05 June 2016





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The marvel of Medjugorje

The six children to whom the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in 1981

Pilgrim tourism which has the potential to transform the inner self is on the rise the world over with around 111 million pilgrims who travel out of their homes each year seeking peace and contentment.

Around 50,000 to 60,000 pilgrims from across the globe visit Sri Lanka annually and it is believed that several millions of pilgrims from all religions travel within India each year.

Medjugorje, a region between two mountains in Bosnia-Herzegovina and home to the Parish of the Blessed Virgin Mary attracts over 1,000 pilgrims daily from across the world to be revived spiritually by the love and grace of the Blessed Mother. I recently had the rare opportunity to visit this unique and sacred site.

It is known as the 'Parish of Mary' following Her appearance to six children in the little village in 1981 and in Her message on March 1, 1984, She said: "I have chosen the parish in a special way and wished to lead it".

Megjugorje, an insignificant village which suffered heavily under the communist regime in Yugoslavia until the war in the early 1990's which split the Balkan nation into six States is today the cynosure of all eyes in the world due to its serene, salubrious and spiritual ambience that woos in a large number of pilgrims daily who yearn for lasting peace and happiness.

Thousands of pilgrims from various nations and nationalities visit the Parish of St. James daily.

"We have around 20 hotels to accommodate pilgrims and more are being built to cater to the influx of visitors. Around 5,000 hotel rooms were built during the past five years as the number of pilgrims is on the rise," the Parish priest of the area said.

Megjugorje was a backward village with its inhabitants living a hand to mouth existence during its turbulent days that devastated the region which is predominantly inhabited by Croatians who embraced Christianity 13 centuries ago. The present parish was founded in 1892 and is dedicated to St. James the Apostle, Protector of Pilgrims.

The miraculous statue of the Crucified Lord

‘Our Lady’s Statue’ at the entrance of St. James Church in Medjugorje

Fr. Slavo Barbaric, a legendary priest who served and laid down his life playing a shepherdic role rekindled the faith of the community.

Medjugorje is a spiritually and materially rich region today thanks to the 'Mother of Medjugorje' who has showered blessings on her parish and invites her children as she did at the wedding feast in Cana to partake in the joy of Her son Jesus Christ, a priest of the parish said.

He said it all began on June 24, 1981 around 6 p.m. when six children, Ivanka Ivankovic, Mirjana Dragecevic, Vicka Ivankovic, Ivan Dragicevic, Ivan Ivankovic and Milka Pavlovic saw on the hill Crnica a young woman with a child in her arms who gave them a sign with her hand to come near. Surprised and scared they did not go near.

The next day at the same time, four of the children felt strongly drawn towards the place where they had seen the person the day before which they had recognized as Our Lady-Gospa. This is why June 25 is celebrated as the anniversary of the apparitions. According to the testimony of the visionaries from that day onwards they had apparitions daily together or separately wherever they were.

The first apparition was 10 years before the Yugoslav war in 1991 urging people to protect and foster peace as Our Lady said: "Peace, peace, peace and only peace! Peace must reign between God and man and between men".

Attracted by the apparitions and messages pilgrims from across the world throng in large numbers each day to the apparition sites and the church. The Visionaries revealed the messages of Our Lady. In the message to Marija Pavlovic on April 25, 2016 the Blessed Mother said; "Dear children, my Immaculate Heart bleeds as I look at you in sin and sinful habits.

I am calling you: return to God and to prayer that it may be good for you on earth. God is calling you through me for your hearts to be hope and joy for all those who are far away. May my call be for you be a balm for the soul and heart so that you may glorify God, the Creator, who loves you and is calling you to eternity. Little children, life is short; you make good use of this time and do what is good."The central message of Medjugorje is peace, faith, conversion, prayer and fasting.

The site used to be difficult to access due to the conflict situation and lack of infrastructure, but now it is easily accessible with many facilities for travellers.

I felt at peace at this tranquil, sacred and legendary place, with a yearning to go there again to experience that magical aura.


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