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Međugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina Apr-26-2012 173 (7155876644).jpg
Međugorje is located in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Location of Međugorje within Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Coordinates: 43°12′N 17°41′E / 43.200°N 17.683°E / 43.200; 17.683Coordinates: 43°12′N 17°41′E / 43.200°N 17.683°E / 43.200; 17.683
Country Bosnia and Herzegovina
EntityFederation of Bosnia and Herzegovina
CantonFlag of Herzegovina-Neretva.svg Herzegovina-Neretva
MunicipalityCitluk Seal.gif Čitluk
 • Total4.57 sq mi (11.83 km2)
 • Total2,265
 • Density500/sq mi (190/km2)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)

Medjugorje[note 1] (Serbo-Croatian: Međugorje / Међугорје, pronounced [mêdʑuɡoːrje]) is a town located in southwestern Bosnia and Herzegovina, about 25 km (16 mi) southwest of Mostar and 20 km (12 mi) east of the border with Croatia. The town is part of the Čitluk municipality and geographically part of Herzegovina. Since 1981, it has become a popular site of Catholic pilgrimage due to Our Lady of Međugorje, a purported series of apparitions of Mary, mother of Jesus, to six local children[1] that are supposedly still happening to this day.[2]

The name Međugorje literally means "between mountains". At an altitude of 200 m (660 ft) above sea level it has a mild Mediterranean climate. The town consists of an ethnically homogeneous Croat population of 2,306. The Roman Catholic parish includes four neighbouring villages: Bijakovići, Vionica, Miletina and Šurmanci. Since 2019, pilgrimages to Medjugorje have been authorized by the Vatican.[3][4]


Early history[edit]

To the east of Međugorje in the Neretva valley, the Serbian Orthodox Žitomislić Monastery has stood since 1566.[5] Gravestones erected in the Middle Ages have remained to this day in the Catholic cemetery Groblje Srebrenica in the hamlet of Miletina as well as in the hamlet of Vionica.[6] In the area of the cemetery in Miletina, structures from the Roman era stood, whose ruins have not yet been fully excavated.[7]

19th and early 20th centuries[edit]

Part of the Ottoman Empire until 1878, it became part of Austria-Hungary (War of 1878, Annexion 1908). In 1882 the railway line between Mostar and the Adriatic coast of Dalmatia was built, with a station in the hamlet of Šurmanci, through which the village gained access to the railway network.

The Catholic parish of Sveti Jakov ("Saint James") was erected in 1892 by the Bishop of Mostar Paškal Buconjić. The twelve-metre tall crucifix on the mountain called Križevac (Cross Mountain), completing the parish's Stations of the Cross (križni put), was completed in 1934.[8][9]

Second World War[edit]

During World War II, the Franciscans of Bosnia and Herzegovina played a leading role in the slaughter and forced conversions of Serbs.[10][11] Some Franciscan monks directly participated in the atrocities.[12] On 6 August 1941, 600 Serb women and children were taken to the head of a quarry near the Franciscan monastery in Međugorje and killed by being pushed over the precipice and thrown into a pit.[10][13]

66 Catholic friars of the Franciscan order were killed by the Partisans, mostly at the end of the war,[14] including 30 at Široki Brijeg near Međugorje for their perceived involvement with the Croatian fascist Ustaše.[15]

This was the place where, some 40 years after these atrocities took place and exactly 10 years before the Bosnian War broke out, residents began reporting apparitions in Međugorje, which called for prayer, conversion, fasting, penance and peace.[16]

Reported apparitions[edit]


Statue of Virgin Mary at Podbrdo, place of the 1st Marian apparition.

Since 1981, when six local children said they had seen visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Medjugorje has become an unapproved destination of Catholic pilgrimage.[citation needed]

"Our Lady of Medjugorje" is the title given to the apparition by those who believe that Mary, mother of Jesus, has been appearing from 24 June 1981 until today to six children, now adults, in Međugorje (then part of communist Yugoslavia).[17] "Most Blessed Virgin Mary", "Queen of Peace" and "Mother of God" are words the apparition has allegedly introduced herself with.[18]

Peace Rosary of Medjugorje, also known as Peace Chaplet of Medjugorje, recommended by Our Lady of Medjugorje, see

The Peace Rosary, also known as the Peace Chaplet of Medjugorje or Workers Chaplet, is recommended for regular prayer by Our Lady of Medjugorje: "There are many Christians who no longer believe because they are not praying. Therefore, start praying daily, at least seven times, Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father, and I believe in God". Thus the Chaplet of Medjugorje consists of 1 + 7 x 3 beads, with a cross or medal. (The Chaplet later became a basis for a prayer for the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, known as the Chaplet in Honour of the Holy Spirit and translated into many languages.)[19]

The visionary Marija Lunetti (Pavlović) claims to receive messages from the Virgin Mary on the twenty-fifth of every month,[20] while Mirjana Soldo (Dragičević) reports receiving messages on the second of the month.[21]

Commonly devoted statue of the Virgin of Medjugorje.

The messages attributed to Our Lady of Medjugorje have a strong following among Catholics worldwide. Medjugorje has become one of the most popular pilgrimage sites for Catholics[22] in the world and has turned into Europe's third most important apparition site, where each year more than 1 million people visit.[23] It has been estimated that 30 million pilgrims have come to Međugorje since the reputed apparitions began in 1981.[24]

Many have reported visual phenomena including the sun spinning in the sky or changing colour and figures such as hearts and crosses around the sun. Some visitors have suffered eye damage while seeking to experience such phenomena.[25][26] Jesuit Father Robert Faricy has written about his own experience of such phenomena, saying, "Yet I have seen rosaries which have changed colour, and I have looked directly at the sun in Medjugorje and have seen it seem to spin and turn different colours. It would be easier to report that it is just hysteria except that I would then have to accuse myself of being hysterical, which I was not and am not."[27]

Official position of the Catholic Church[edit]

On August 21, 1996, Vatican Press Office spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls declared that Catholics may still travel on pilgrimage to Medjugorje and that priests may accompany them. Navarro-Valls declared: "You cannot say people cannot go there until it has been proven false. This has not been said, so anyone can go if they want."[28]

A Vatican commission to study the Međugorje question was set up by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010; headed by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, it was reported on 18 January 2014 to have completed its work, to be communicated to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.[29] Pope Francis commented on the report as "very, very good" on 13 May 2017 when speaking to journalists.[30] According to Italian media, the Ruini report divided the investigation into three main parts: the early apparitions from 24 June 1981 to 3 July 1981, the acclaimed apparitions thereafter, and the pastoral situation. The commission's findings were positive towards recognizing the supernatural nature of the first appearances, and rejected the hypothesis of a demonic origin of the apparitions. But it could not reach a finding on the reported subsequent apparitions, despite a majority of the commission recognizing the spiritual benefits that Medjugorje had brought to pilgrims,[31] including Pope Francis who remarked: "The third, the 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." [30]

Catholic priests giving the Eucharist to the pilgrims in Medjugorje.

On 11 February 2017, Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Henryk Hoser, S.A.C., the Bishop of Praga (Warsaw), as Special Envoy of the Holy See to Medjugorje.[32] By the end of 2017, Hoser had announced that the Vatican's position was in favor of organizing pilgrimages. “Today, dioceses and other institutions can organize official pilgrimages. It’s no longer a problem,” explained Archbishop Hoser. “Pope Francis [even] recently asked an Albanian cardinal to give his blessing to the faithful at Medjugorje."[33] “I am full of admiration for the work the Franciscans are doing there,” the Polish archbishop reported. “With a relatively small team—there are only a dozen of them—they do a huge job of welcoming pilgrims. Every summer they organize a youth festival. This year, there were 50,000 young people from around the world, with more than 700 priests.”

He also cited the large number of confessions, adding, “There is a massive number of confessions. They have about 50 confessionals, which are not enough.” [33] “This is a phenomenon. And what confirms the authenticity of the place is the large number of charitable institutions that exist around the sanctuary. And another aspect as well: the great effort that is being made at the level of Christian formation. Each year, they organize conferences at different levels, for various audiences,” exemplifying priests, doctors, parents, young people and couples. “The decree of the former episcopal conference of what used to be Yugoslavia, which, before the Balkan war, advised against pilgrimages in Medjugorje organized by bishops, is no longer relevant,” he said.[33]

Development of the pilgrimage site[edit]

On 24 June 1981, reports began of Marian apparitions on Crnica hill in the Bijakovići hamlet, and shortly thereafter[when?] confrontations with Yugoslav state authorities began. Pilgrims were forbidden from coming.[34] Pilgrims' donations were seized by the police and access to what was called the Apparition Hill was largely blocked.[citation needed]

In October 1981, Father Jozo Zovko, then the parish priest of the town, was sentenced to three and a half years imprisonment[34] with forced labor for allegedly participating in a nationalistic plot.[citation needed] After Amnesty International, among others, appealed for his release and a judicial appeal was made, the sentence was reduced in the Yugoslav Federal Court in Belgrade to one and a half years, and the priest was released from prison in 1983.[35][36][unreliable source?]

In the last years[when?] before the breakup of Yugoslavia, travel of pilgrims was no longer hindered by the state.[34][unreliable source?]

Međugorje during the Bosnian War[edit]

During the Bosnian War, Medjugorje remained in the hands of the Croatian Defence Council and in 1993 became part of the Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia. By the Dayton Agreement in 1995, Medjugorje was incorporated into the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, populated mostly by Bosniaks and Croats. It lies within the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton, one of ten autonomous regions established so that no ethnic group could dominate the Federation.[citation needed]

On 2 April 1995, at the high point of conflict within the local diocese, Bishop Ratko Perić was kidnapped by Croat militiamen, beaten, and taken to a chapel run by one of the Franciscans associated with Međugorje, where he was held hostage for ten hours. At the initiative of the mayor of Mostar, he was freed without bloodshed, with the help of the United Nations Protection Force.[37][38][39]

The Dutch professor of anthropology at the Free University, Amsterdam, Mart Bax, wrote in several publications that there had been mass killings due to a vendetta between clans during the beginning of the Bosnian War in 1991 and 1992. After much investigative research by journalists in several newspapers and comments from other scholars it appears unlikely that these mass killings ever occurred.[40][41][42][43][44]

Development after the war[edit]

Church in Međugorje, B-H, June 4th 2007 (1).jpg

After the Bosnian War ended, peace came to the area and UN peace troops were stationed in western Herzegovina. Efforts by a politician, Ante Jelavić, to create a Croatian entity were unsuccessful, and Međugorje remained part of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.[citation needed]

The town and its environs boomed economically after the war. Over a thousand hotel and hostel beds are available for pilgrims to the town. With approximately one million visitors annually, the municipality of Medjugorje has the most overnight stays in Bosnia-Herzegovina.[citation needed]

The Mostar International Airport, located approximately 20 km (12 mi) to the northeast and which was closed in 1991, reopened for civil aviation in 1998 and has made air travel to region easier since then. The road network was expanded after the Bosnian War. In addition the hamlet of Šurmanci in the lower Neretva valley has a train station on the route from Ploče to Sarajevo.[37]

On 6 April 2001, demonstrations occurred in the region, with some violence, after the NATO-led Stabilisation Force had closed and searched the local branches of the Hercegovačka banka ("Herzegovina Bank"), through which a large part of the currency transactions in Herzegovina, including international donations intended for Međugorje, were carried out, on suspicion of white-collar crime. The Franciscan Province responsible for the parish was a shareholder of the bank.[45][46]

On 11 February 2017, Pope Francis named Archbishop Hoser from Poland his special envoy to Međugorje, tasked with assessing its pastoral needs.[47] A couple of months later Hoser finished his work and returned home.

On 31 May 2018, Pope Francis named Hoser as special apostolic visitor to Međugorje, for "an undefined period and at nutum Sanctae Sedis" (at the disposal of the Holy See). The aim of this mission is "ensuring a stable and continuous accompaniment to the parish community of Medjugorje and to the faithful who go there as pilgrims, and whose needs require particular attention."[48][49]

Pilgrimage to Medjugorje authorized by Vatican[edit]

On 12 May 2019, the Vatican officially authorized pilgrimage to Medjugorje.[3] The first Vatican sanctioned pilgrimage then took place for five days from 2-6 August 2019.[4] During the pilgrimage, approximately 60,000 young Catholics from 97 countries took part in the celebration of a youth festival.[4] Fourteen archbishops and bishops and about 700 Catholic priests joined the festivities as well.[4]


According to the 2013 census, its population was 2,265.[50]

Ethnicity in 2013
Ethnicity Number Percentage
Croats 2,232 98.5%
Bosniaks 4 0.2%
Serbs 3 0.1%
other/undeclared 26 1.1%
Total 2,265 100%

Notable people[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "dj" was replaced by "đ" in Gaj's Latin alphabet, but continues to be used in the majority of English-language sources, either by choice or out of typographic limitation.


  1. ^ Overview of Medjugorje, accessed 6 July 2020
  2. ^ "For second time, Pope sends special envoy to Medjugorje". Crux. 2018-05-31. Archived from the original on 2019-05-13. Retrieved 2019-05-06.
  3. ^ a b Pope authorizes pilgrimages to Medjugorje 12 May 2019 accessed 6 July 2020
  4. ^ a b c d Vatican confirms Medjugorje approval by joining youth festival Jonathan Luxmoore Aug 7, 2019 accessed 6 July 2020
  5. ^ András Riedlmayer: Zitomislici (1566-1992): Meaning, History, and Tragic End, Haverford College, undated, in the Internet Archive
  6. ^ Franjo Sušac: Stećci Archived 2013-12-08 at the Wayback Machine, Turistička zajednica općine Čitluk, 2002; cf. also Town map Archived 2013-08-22 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ KRATKE POVIJESNE ČINJENICE: (tr. "BRIEF HISTORICAL FACTS") -Presentation of the region's history -website of the Informativni Centar Međugorje accessed 6 July 2020
  8. ^ Medjugorje, Description of the town at
  9. ^ Medjugorje auf
  10. ^ a b West, Richard (2012). Tito and the Rise and Fall of Yugoslavia. Faber & Faber. pp. 21–23. ISBN 978-0-57128-110-7.
  11. ^ Donia, Robert J.; Fine, John Van Antwerp (1994). Bosnia and Hercegovina: A Tradition Betrayed. Columbia University Press. p. 141. ISBN 978-0-23110-161-5.
  12. ^ Velikonja, Mitja (2003). Religious Separation and Political Intolerance in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Texas A&M University Press. p. 173. ISBN 978-1-60344-724-9.
  13. ^ Stanford, Peter (2021). Pilgrimage. Thames & Hudson. pp. 131–132. ISBN 978-0-50077-642-1.
  14. ^ Jakelic, Slavica (2016). Collectivistic Religions: Religion, Choice, and Identity in Late Modernity. Routledge. p. 95. ISBN 978-1-31716-420-3.
  15. ^ McLaughlin, Daniel (6 July 2011). "Little peace or tranquility at Bosnian village with murderous history near Medjugorje". The Irish Times.
  16. ^ "Pilgrims", BBC Documentary from 2009 on Medjugorje, after 7 minutes and 40 seconds, visionary Vicka on stairs of her parents house addressing a crowd of pilgrims
  17. ^ A short history of Our Lady's apparitions in Medjugorje 14 June 2004, accessed 21 July 2020
  18. ^ All the alleged messages from the beginning in 1981 until today – on one page, message part of the book Messages and Teachings of Mary at Medjugorje by René Laurentin and René Lejeune, extended with the messages until this day from the website of the Parish of Medjugorje and other web sites related to Medjugorje.
  19. ^ Trojnar, M. "Dlaczego i skąd koronka ku czci Ducha Swiętego?". Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  20. ^ Marija - Medjugorje Visionaries Archived 2016-01-06 at the Wayback Machine (Seer Marija Lunetti who reports to receive the twenty-fifth message), accessed 21 July 2020
  21. ^ Mirjana - Medjugorje Visionaries Archived 2016-01-06 at the Wayback Machine (Seer Mirjana Soldo who reports to receive the message on the second of the month), accessed 21 July 2020
  22. ^ Australian dies in Bosnia bus crash. Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 28 February 2010.
  23. ^ RomeReports: Visionaries of Medjugorje may appear before the Vatican. Archived 2013-05-05 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved Feb 26 2011.
  24. ^ Vatican Probes Claims of Apparitions at Medugorje Reuters. Retrieved 17 March 2010.
  25. ^ Randy Campo MD, Jack Sipperley MD; et al. (May 1988). "Correspondence". New England Journal of Medicine. Republished on the internet by Mary Ann Button, O.D. 318 (18): 1207. doi:10.1056/nejm198805053181820. PMID 3362173. Archived from the original on 2009-02-07.
  26. ^ Ralph Nix MD, David Apple MD; Apple (August 1987). "Solar Retinopathy from Sungazing in Medjugorje". Journal of the Louisiana State Medical Society. Republished on the internet by Mary Ann Button, O.D. 139 (8): 36–40. PMID 3655763.
  27. ^ Connell, Jan (1990). Queen of the Cosmos. Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-1-55725-407-8. Archived from the original on 2016-04-09. Retrieved 2013-03-13.
  28. ^ Vatican Warns U.S. Bishops on Medjugorje accessed 6 July 2020
  29. ^ Vatican Commission ends 4 years of Medjugorje investigation Medjugorje Today via
  30. ^ a b "Full text of May 13 in-flight interview with Pope Francis". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved 2017-06-23.
  31. ^ "Medjugorje; the findings of the Ruini report". Retrieved 2017-06-23.
  32. ^ "Pope appoints Special Envoy to Medjugorje". Retrieved 2017-06-23.
  33. ^ a b c Official pilgrimages to Medjugorje are being authorized, confirms Pope Francis’ envoy accessed 6 July 2020
  34. ^ a b c Ulrike Rudberg: Abends, wenn Maria kommt. Die Zeit, 26 June 1987
  35. ^ Pater Jozo Zovko Archived 2010-10-12 at the Wayback Machine at
  36. ^ Jozo Zovko[failed verification] Archived July 13, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, Biography on the website Kathpedia
  37. ^ a b E. Michael Jones: The Ghosts of Surmanci, South Bend, Indiana), February 1998
  38. ^ Michael Sells: Crosses of Blood, Sociology of Religion, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, Herbst 2003
  39. ^ René Laurentin: Medjugorje Testament, Ave Maria Press, Toronto 1998; ISBN 0-9697382-6-9, cited by Craig L. Heimbichner
  40. ^ Het Kaartenhuis van hoogleraar Bax (tr. "The House of Cards by Professor Bax") by Richard de Boer in Volkskrant, 13 April 2013.
  41. ^ Circumventing Reality: Report on the Anthropological Work of Professor Emeritus M.M.G. Bax by Michiel Baud, Susan Legêne, and Peter Pels, Amsterdam, 9 September 2013, commissioned by the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  42. ^ Kolfschooten, Frank van, October 2012, Ontspoorde Wetenschap (Engl.: "Derailed science"), De Kring publishing house, Dutch language monograph about various cases of scientific misconduct, ISBN 9789491567025
  43. ^ Radoš, Ivica Fikcija, a ne povijest (tr. "Fiction, not history") Archived 2013-09-27 at the Wayback Machine article in Croatian in the Zagreb based Jutarnji list newspaper, published on 10 August 2008
  44. ^ Norbert Mappes-Niediek: Die Toten, die es nicht gab. (tr. "The dead that didn't exist") Archived 2008-09-01 at the Wayback Machine In: Frankfurter Rundschau. 27. August 2008.
  45. ^ East European Constitutional Review Archived 2008-08-21 at the Wayback Machine, New York University, 2001.
  46. ^ SFOR supports HR's actions on Hercegovacka Banka, 18 April 2001, accessed 6 July 2020
  47. ^ Pentin, Edward (11 February 2017). "Pope Francis Appoints Polish Archbishop to Be Special Envoy to Medjugorje". National Catholic Register. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  48. ^ News from Medjugorje 26 June 2020, accessed 6 July 2020
  49. ^ [1] Holy See Press Office Communiqué: Appointment of Special Apostolic Visitor for the parish of Medjugorje, 31.05.2018,
  50. ^ "Naseljena Mjesta 1991/2013" (in Bosnian). Statistical Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Retrieved September 28, 2021.

External links[edit]