by Elizabeth Ficocelli
Defying scientific study, psychological analysis, attempts of Communist suppression, full-scale war and on-going Church scrutiny, the Virgin Mary continues to visit daily with young people from the tiny village of Medjugorje, in former Yugoslavia. What could be so important that Heaven would send the Mother of Jesus to earth every day for an astonishing period of more than 20 years?
In the early 1990’s, the clash of politics and religion disintegrated the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia into various warring factions. The brutal struggle between Muslim, Serbian Orthodox and Croatian Catholic caught the attention of the world. People lamented over televised bloodshed and destruction in Sarajevo, on the very same grounds where the Olympics, the international games of peace, were held just a decade earlier.
For millions around the globe, however, there was a vested interest in this conflict that had nothing to do with politics or media coverage. This war-torn, forsaken land, for believers of many nations, represented sacred ground. For in this very region exists the obscure hamlet of Medjugorje, an unlikely host to a supernatural event that surpasses any other in history: the daily visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mother for over two decades.
What Exactly is Medjugorje?
The apparitions of Medjugorje began on June 24, 1981, when the Virgin Mary appeared to six Croatian children on a rural hillside. As in the apparitions of Fatima, Portugal, perhaps the most popular of all Marian apparitions, the Virgin comes with the self-proclaimed title, “Queen of Peace.” On occasion she appears escorted by angels. At other times, she carries the infant Jesus in her arms. Her signature sign, however, is the crown of twelve stars she wears around her head, much like the scriptural woman from the Book of Revelation.
Today, the six visionaries are adults. They live in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Italy and America, although all of them spend some time in Medjugorje each year. Interestingly, none of the visionaries have entered the religious life, as expected. Instead, all are married are raising children. Whether the seers have elected to lead a quiet, private life, or remain in the public eye, marriage and family is central to their spirituality.
What Makes Medjugorje Unique?
Marian apparitions are certainly not a new phenomenon. For centuries, the Virgin Mary has been reported to appear and speak to seers around the world, often in the most remote places. Reports of heavenly visitations in modern times, in fact, are occurring at an unprecedented rate. Yet, there is an importance to the Medjugorje phenomenon that merits special attention.
First, unlike “traditional” apparitions which typically occur for a very limited time, the number of visitations of the Virgin in Medjugorje have far exceeded any in history. The Mother of Jesus has literally appeared every day since 1981, entrusting her listeners with over 10,000 messages.
Second, the scope of the messages of Medjugorje is also extraordinary. They are specific and revealing, even incorporating a monthly message for the entire world since 1987. The Virgin affirmed her intentions in Medjugorje in the early years of the phenomenon:
“I wish to keep on giving you messages as it has never been in history, from the beginning of the world.” (4/4/85)
The messages of Medjugorje – a call to peace and conversion — seem to dovetail on previous apparitions. There is speculation that Medjugorje may be the fulfillment of earlier events. One thing is for certain: these apparitions are the only ones in history, which claim to be the last on earth, a third distinctive characteristic.
“I have come to call the world to conversion for the last time. Afterwards, I will not appear any more on this earth.” (5/2/82)