Our Lady of Medjugorje

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Our Lady of Medjugorje
Holy Virgin Gospa from Tihajlin next to Međugorje.jpg
Statue of Our Lady of Tihaljina, often mistaken for the Gospa of Medjugorje[1]
LocationMedjugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Witness
  • Mirjana Dragićević
  • Ivanka Ivanković
  • Marija Pavlović
  • Jakov Colo
  • Vicka Ivanković
  • Ivan Dragićević
TypeMarian apparition
Holy See approvalPending approval by the Holy See
ShrineMedjugorje

Our Lady of Medjugorje (Croatian: Međugorska Gospa; 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 teenagers in Medjugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina (at the time in SFR Yugoslavia).[2] Local Diocese as well as the Catholic Church have not recognised the apparitions as either supernatural or authentic.

There have also been continued reports of seeing the apparition and receiving messages from it during the years since. The seers often refer to the apparition as the "Gospa",[3] which is a Serbo-Croatian archaism for lady. On May 13, 2017, a papal response came when Pope Francis declared that the original visions reported by the teenagers are worth studying in more depth, while the subsequent continued visions over the years are, in his view, of dubious value.[4] 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.[5] This pilgrimage was officially authorized by the Vatican in May 2019.[6] The approval was made official with the celebration of a youth festival among pilgrims and Catholic clergy in Medjugorie for five days in August 2019.[7]

Alleged seers[edit]

On June 24, 1981, young Mirjana Dragićević[8] and Ivanka Ivanković[9] 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[10] Jakov Colo,[11] Vicka Ivanković,[12] and Ivan Dragićević.[13]

The teenagers 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.[14]

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.[15]

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.[16]

A 2009 paper by Yale Divinity School student Daniel Klimek details the intricate connection between the Medjugorje apparitions and the writings of the Italian mystic Maria Valtorta.[17][18]

Vicka Ivanković[edit]

Vicka Ivanković is the oldest of the alleged seers, born on 3 September 1964 in Bijakovići, a village near Međugorje. At the time of the alleged apparitions, she was 16. She claims to have daily apparitions, and on occasions two, three, four or five times a day. According to her claims, the apparition told her her biography from January 1983 to April 1985.[19]

One of the major controversies of the Međugorje phenomenon was her diary about the apparitions, which went public, with or without her consent. She claimed that the copying of her diaries occurred without her knowledge or consent.[19]

She lives in Međugorje and is married to Marijo Mijatović as of 2002.[20]

Mirjana Dragičević[edit]

Mirjana Dragičević was born in Sarajevo on 18 March 1965 in Sarajevo. At the time of the alleged apparitions, she was 15. She lived in Sarajevo for a long time, where she has also finished her education. She claims to have had regular apparitions between 24 June 1981 and 25 December 1982. She claims that she became depressed and prayed the apparition to see her again. According to her claims, Gospa left her "a gift" in a way that she could see her on her birthday. As Međugorje became more and more popular, Dragičević later said that as of 2 August 1987, the apparition would appear every 2nd day of every month. As of 2 January 1997, Dragičević knew the exact hour of the apparition (10 to 11 AM).[20]

She claims that the apparition told her ten secrets, which are intended "for humanity in general, for the world, then for Međugorje, Yugoslavia and some other areas". Dragičević also told that every seer has a special mission. She was ordained for those "who do not know the love of God", Vicka Ivanković and Jakov Čolo for the sick, Ivan Dragičević for the young and the priests, Marija Pavlović for the souls in Purgatory, and Ivanka Ivanković for families.[21]

Dragičević is married to Marko Soldo since 1989 and they have two children. They live in Međugorje.[22]

Marija Pavlović[edit]

Marija Pavlović

Marija Pavlović was born on 1 April 1965 in Bijakovići near Međugorje. At the time of the alleged apparitions, she was 15. She finished secondary school in Mostar. She became a seer since the second day of the alleged apparitions on 25 June 1981.[23]

She was once asked why she didn't become a nun, to which she replied: "Through all those years I thought I'm gonna be a nun. I started visiting a monastery, my desire to go there was very strong. But the abbess told me: "Marija, if you tend to join, you can, but if Bishop decides that you cannot talk about Međugorje, you must listen to him'. In that moment, I started to think that my calling is perhaps that I witness that what I saw and felt, and that I will seek my sainthood outside the monastery."[23] She also claims to have daily apparitions and that she keeps nine secrets from Gospa. She claims that Gospa sends her monthly messages for the world. These messages were at first made public by fra Tomislav Vlašić, then after him by fra Slavko Barbarić.[24]

Later, in February 1988 she joined fra Tomislav Vlašić,[25] a New Age promoter,[26] and his group community "Queen of Peace, where totally yours - Through Mary to Jesus" in Parma, Italy with other 15 young men and women. They participated in five-month-long spiritual exercises. She left the group in July 1988. Vlašić was an ex-friar since 1987 who with his German assistant Agnes Heupel founded a mystic community. Heupel also claimed to receive messages from Gospa. Vlašić claimed, through Pavlović's testimony, that the community was a work of Gospa herself. Pavlović delivered him an answer in March 1987 to his question to Gospa about the community, which, among other things, stated: "This is God's plan" and that "Gospa leads the group through father Tomislav and Agnes, through which she sends her messages for the community".[27] In July 1988, Pavlović denied any messages from Gospa regarding the community.[28]

She married an Italian, Paolo Lunneti in Milano in 1993. They live in a mansion in Monza.[29]

Ivan Dragičević[edit]

Ivan Dragičević was born in Mostar on 25 May 1965. At the time of the alleged apparitions, he was 15. After graduating from elementary school, he enrolled at a secondary school in Čitluk, but failed to pass the first class. In August 1981 he applied to the seminary of the Herzegovinian Franciscan Province, already known by the alleged apparitions. He was sent to a seminary in Visoko. In the seminary, he also claimed to have daily apparitions. Again he failed to pass the first class and was sent to the gymnasium in Dubrovnik, where it was thought he would pass the class more easily. Thus, in autumn 1982, he was transferred from the Franciscan seminary to the humanist gymnasium in Dubrovnik. He was unsuccessful there as well and left the school altogether in January 1983.[30]

While in the Franciscan seminary, he claimed that Gospa came to an image of Jesus and said: "Angel, this is your Father", which was never taught by any Christian denomination. He also claimed, like Vicka Dragičević, that Gospa told him her biography from December 1982 to May 1983.[31]

Dragičević married Laureen Murphy, the miss Massachusetts, in 1994. They have three children and live in Boston.[31]

Ivanka Ivanković[edit]

Ivanka Ivanković was born in Bijakovići on 21 June 1966. At the time of the alleged apparitions, she was 14. She, like Ivan Dragičević and Vicka Dragičević, claims that Gospa told her biography between January and May 1983. She claims to have had regular apparitions until 7 May 1985 and that since then the apparitions occurre only once a year. She was, as she claims, given the tenth secret by Gospa.[32]

She is married to Rajko Elez with whom she has three children. They live in Međugorje.[32]

Jakov Čolo[edit]

Jakov Čolo was born in Bijakovići on 6 March 1971. At the time of the alleged apparitions, he was 10. He claimed to have had daily apparitions from 25 June 1981 to 12 September 1998. As of then, he claims that he has one apparition a year on the Christmas day. He claims that Gospa told him the tenth secret.[33]

He is married to an Italian Anna-Lisa Barozzi in 1993. They have three children and live in Međugorje.[33]

Reported messages and visions[edit]

Ever since Our Lady of Medjugorje first appeared to the six seers, they have been reporting receiving messages from the Virgin Mary asking for people to pray often, to fast, and to do penance.[34]

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.[35] And some have reported miraculous cures.[36] 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.[37] Not everyone reports seeing the same miracles at the same time. Numerous supposedly miraculous healings have also been reported.[38]

Description of Mary[edit]

Commonly devoted statue of the Virgin of Medjugorje.

Franciscan Fr. Janko Bubalo questioned the seers and asked them to describe Virgin 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."[39] Seer 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."[40]

Official position of the Church[edit]

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...")[41] 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.[42] The Vatican commission set up to study Medjugorje concluded on 18 January 2014.[43] On 7 May 2015, Pope Francis announced the results would come soon.[44] On 11 June 2015, the Vatican's chief spokesman communicated that no decision was expected until the Fall of 2015.[45]

Eventually, 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 teenagers, the report more or less says that these need to continue being studied."[46][4] 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.[47]

However, the commission report itself was not a decision. The Polish Archbishop Henryk Hoser was 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.” The Archbishop reported to the Pope in the summer of 2017.[48]

Authorization of Pilgrimage[edit]

Organized pilgrimages to Medjugorje were discouraged by the local Bishops at Zadar during 1991, and this decision was confirmed by Cardinal Bertone at the Vatican in 1996.

However on May 12, 2019, the Vatican officially authorized pilgrimages to Medjugorje.[6] The first Vatican sanctioned pilgrimage took place for five days in August 2019.[7] During the pilgrimage, approximately 60,000 young Catholics from 97 different countries took part in the celebration of a youth festival.[7] Fourteen archbishops and bishops and about 700 Catholic priests joined the festival as well.[7]

Skepticism[edit]

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.[49]

Raymond Eve, a professor of sociology, in the Skeptical Inquirer has written:

I acknowledge that the teenagers' 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.[50]

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 teenagers 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.[49]

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."[51]

Cardinal Gerhard Müller, when he was Prefect of the CDF,[52] 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 seers.[51]

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Our Lady in Tihaljina statue at medjugorje.org online store. Accessed 2011-05-16.
  2. ^ Rupcic, Dr. Fr. Ljudevit. "A short history of Our Lady's apparitions in Medjugorje". Medjugorje Web Site. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
  3. ^ "Questionable Games Surrounding the Great Sign" Ratko Perić, Bishop of Mostar-Duvno, Diocesan website. Accessed 2011-05-16.
  4. ^ a b Harris, Elise (2017-05-13). "Pope Francis: I am suspicious of ongoing Medjugorje apparitions". Catholic News Agency (CNA). Retrieved 2018-03-18.
  5. ^ "Pope Francis' opinion on the Medjugorje apparitions". Rome Reports. 2017-05-13. Retrieved 2018-03-17.
  6. ^ a b https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-05/pope-authorizes-pilgrimages-to-medjugorje.html
  7. ^ a b c d https://cruxnow.com/church-in-europe/2019/08/06/vatican-confirms-medjugorje-approval-by-joining-youth-festival/
  8. ^ "Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo". Medjugorje.com. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
  9. ^ "Ivanka Ivankovic-Elez". Medjugorje.com. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
  10. ^ "Marija Pavlovic-Lunetti". Medjugorje.com. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
  11. ^ "Jakov Colo". Medjugorje.com. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
  12. ^ "Vicka - Medjugorje Visionary". Medjugorje.com. Retrieved 2017-01-08.
  13. ^ "Ivan Dragicevic". Medjugorje.com. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
  14. ^ Soldo, Mirjana (2016). My Heart Will Triumph. CatholicShop Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9978906-0-0.
  15. ^ 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.]
  16. ^ "Medjugorje website". Medjugorje.org. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
  17. ^ ""The Gospels According to Christ? Combining the Study of the Historical Jesus with Modern Mysticism", Daniel Klimek" (PDF). Glossolalia.sites.yale.edu. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
  18. ^ "Vicka Ivanković 1988 interview". Mariavaltortawebring.com. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
  19. ^ a b Kutleša 2001, p. 21.
  20. ^ a b Kutleša 2001, p. 23.
  21. ^ Kutleša 2001, p. 25.
  22. ^ Kutleša 2001, p. 26.
  23. ^ a b Kutleša 2001, p. 28.
  24. ^ Kutleša 2001, p. 30–31.
  25. ^ Kutleša 2001, p. 29.
  26. ^ Niles 2017.
  27. ^ Kutleša 2001, p. 28–29.
  28. ^ Kutleša 2001, p. 29–30.
  29. ^ Kutleša 2001, p. 31.
  30. ^ Kutleša 2001, p. 33.
  31. ^ a b Kutleša 2001, p. 34.
  32. ^ a b Kutleša 2001, p. 36.
  33. ^ a b Kutleša 2001, p. 37.
  34. ^ "Our Lady's Annual Messages – Medjugorje Messages". Medjugorje.com. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
  35. ^ Glen C. Cangelosi, David A. Newsome. (January 1988). "Solar Retinopathy in Persons on Religious Pilgrimage". American Journal of Ophthalmology. 105 (1): 95–97. PMID 3337203.
  36. ^ "Testimonies of Physical Healings". Medjugorje.com. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
  37. ^ "Miracle at Medjugorje – Visit To Medjugorje". Medjugorje.org. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
  38. ^ "Testimonies of Physical Healings". Medjugorje.com. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
  39. ^ "Description of Our Lady of Medjugorje". Medjugorjeusa.org. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
  40. ^ Bubalo, Father Janko (1991). A Thousand Encounters With The Blessed Virgin Mary in Medjugorje; The Seer Vicka Speaks of Her Experiences. Friends of Medjugorje.
  41. ^ "Norms regarding the manner of proceedings in the discernment of presumed apparitions or revelations". Vatican.va. Retrieved 2017-01-08.
  42. ^ "Biskupije Mostar-Duvno i Trebinje-Mrkan | Dioeceses Mandetriensis-Delminiensis et Tribuniensis-Marcanensis". Cbismo.com (in Croatian). Retrieved 2017-01-08.
  43. ^ "Commission to submit study on Medjugorje". News.va. 2014-01-18. Retrieved 2017-01-08.
  44. ^ Sotelo, Nicole (2015-06-06). "Francis: Decision on Medjugorje visions to come soon | National Catholic Reporter". Ncronline.org. Retrieved 2017-01-08.
  45. ^ Edward Pentin (2015-06-26). "Vatican Remains Mum on Medjugorje: No Decision Has Been Made". Ncregister.com. Retrieved 2017-01-08.
  46. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/14/pope-francis-casts-doubt-on-virgin-mary-apparitions-at-bosnian-pilgrimage-site
  47. ^ "Medjugorje, the findings of the Ruini report". Catholic New Agency. 18 May 2017. Retrieved 19 May 2017.
  48. ^ http://www.lastampa.it/2017/05/16/vaticaninsider/eng/the-vatican/medjugorje-the-findings-of-the-ruini-report-hvBaZ3ssAeDicjdmEcS3UN/pagina.html
  49. ^ a b Nickell, Joe. (1993). Looking for a Miracle: Weeping Icons, Relics, Stigmata, Visions & Healing Cures. Prometheus Books. pp. 190-194. ISBN 1-57392-680-9
  50. ^ "Politicizing the Virgin Mary: The Instance of the Madonna of Medjugorje". Csicop.org. Retrieved 2015-08-02.
  51. ^ a b Pope skeptical about Medjugorje - ChurchMilitant.com Saturday, May 13th, 2017
  52. ^ Cardinal Müller’s Letter and His Non-Renewal as Head of the CDF - FSSPX News

References[edit]

Books[edit]

  • Kutleša, Dražen (2001). Ogledalo pravde [Mirror of Justice] (in Croatian). Mostar: Biskupski ordinarijat Mostar.

News article[edit]

External links[edit]