Our Lady of Medjugorje
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Our Lady of Medjugorje (also called Queen of Peace) is the title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary by those who believe that she appeared to six Herzegovinian children in Medjugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina (at the time in SFR Yugoslavia). The visionaries often refer to the apparition as the "Gospa" which is Croatian for "Lady".
On June 24, 1981, young Mirjana Dragicevic and Ivanka Ivanković reported seeing an apparition of the Virgin Mary in a village in what is now Bosnia and Herzegovina. The following day another vision was reported, this time also by four other young people:, Marija Pavlović Jakov Colo, Vicka Ivanković, and Ivan Dragicevic.
The children claim that they saw an apparition on the hill Crnica (on the place called Podbrdo); the alleged apparition was a white form with a child 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.
For several years the six visionaries reported seeing daily apparitions from the Virgin Mary and Medjugorje became crowded with pilgrims. It has been reported that Our Lady of Medjugorje has been appearing daily to three of these visionaries ever since, some say that they have stopped having daily apparitions.
At the time of the first alleged apparition Vicka Ivanković was sixteen years old. She claims to have prayed with Our Lady and talked to her; she also claims to have been given nine "secrets".
Her "prayer mission", said to have been 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.
Vicka Ivanković continues to meet with pilgrims to Medjugorje, which she has done for over twenty one years. Vicka is often called "the smiling visionary" because she always has a smile filled with joy on her face.
Regarding her alleged visions, Vicka 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 visions
In the nearly 30 years that she has purportedly been appearing to the six visionaries, they have been reporting receiving messages from the Virgin Mary asking for people to pray often, fast and do penance.
Many phenomena have been reported at Medjugorje, such as the sun spinning, dancing in the sky, turning colors, or being surrounded by objects such as hearts or crosses. Many have reported that they have been able to look at the sun during those times without any damage to their eyes. The tall cement cross erected on Mount Podbrdo (where many of the apparitions had taken place) 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. Miraculous healing has also been reported.
Description of Our Lady
Franciscan Fr. Janko Bubalo questioned the visionaries and asked them to describe Mary's appearance. According to how they saw Our Lady, she is 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 nice, little nose and rosy cheeks. She has beautiful 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.”
Official position of the church
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 and non constat de supernaturalitate.
History of discernment
Bishop Ratko Perić of the diocese of Mostar-Duvno, responsible for Medjugorje, has stated, "The numerous absurd messages, lies, falsehoods and disobedience associated from the beginning with the events and "apparitions" of Medjugorje, all refute every claim of authenticity."
In response to inquiries about the apparitions in general and the comments of Bishop Perić in particular, then-Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, as Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote that the comments of Bishop Perić "should be considered the expression of the personal conviction of the Bishop of Mostar which he has the right to express as Ordinary of the place, but which is and remains his personal opinion."
In 2008, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) informed Tomislav Vlašić, the spiritual director and pastor of Medjugorje, that he was under investigation "for the diffusion of dubious doctrine, manipulation of consciences, suspected mysticism, disobedience towards legitimately issued orders" and charges of sexual misconduct ("contra sextum") and ordered him to stay at a Franciscan monastery in Lombardy, take a course of theological and spiritual formation, not have contact with the "Queen of Peace..." association, not get involved in juridical contracts or acts of administration, and not engage in preaching, spiritual direction, public statements, or performing the sacrament of confession, under pain of incurring the penalty of automatic interdict. In May 2008, CDF informed Bishop Ratko Perić of Mostar that Vlašić had incurred the penalty of automatic interdict.
On March 23, 1996 and October 21, 2013, the Holy See stated, in light of the Zadar declaration, that pilgrimages are permitted so long as they are not authentifications of Medjugorje; but meetings, conferences, or public celebrations which assume the authenticity of Medjugorje are forbidden.
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- 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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- Normae Congregationis
- "Medjugorje Without a Mask". Marcocorvaglia.com. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
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- Simon Caldwell (5 Sep 2008). "Vatican disciplines ex-spiritual director to Medjugorje visionaries". Catholic News Service.
- Ratko Perić (31 August 2008). "Canonical Status of Rev. Father Tomislav Vlašić, OFM". Diocese of Mostar.
- "Holy See confirms creation of Medjugorje Commission". Catholic News Agency (ACI Prensa). March 17, 2010.
- Medjugorje Documents: Are pilgrimages to Medjugorje permitted or not???
-  Medjugorje Documents: 2013 CDF, twice to US Bishops on Medjugorje...
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