The marvel of Medjugorje
The six children to whom the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in
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
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
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
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
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.