Nedjo Brecic, the founder of our prayer group, the IIPG, had an excellent short report about the early years of the apparitions in Medjugorje on his website, "My Home Medjugorje."
Since I last posted this report to the IIPG in June 2011, I thought I would post this report again for the new members of our prayer group to read. I will post it in 9 separate parts for easier reading.
Take care and God bless,
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Medjugorje - From the First Day (Part 1 of 9)
A short report about the apparitions of Our Lady
The apparitions of the Mother of God in Bosnia and Herzegovina continue to create an ever increasing interest in the general public. For this reason there have been numerous requests to publish a shortened version of the appearances in Medjugorje in which the most important events are accurately described. This version may also be useful in answering several false and contradictory reports which have been circulating recently and will no doubt be welcomed as an instructive piece of literature by all interested readers.
The book written by the Croatian priest Marijan Ljubic served as the main source of information. The seventh edition entitled "The Apparitions of the Mother of God in Medjugorje" was published in October 1985.
This report will in no way preempt the authority of the Church. Clearly the Church must form its own conclusions regarding the apparitions and this will only be possible when the appearances cease. We must stress we follow and subordinate ourselves to the judgement of the Church, and believe an accurate recounting of eyewitness reports is the best answer to criticism.
Medjugorje is a village in the mountains near Mostar. The nearest cities are Sarajevo, Split and Dubrovnik. The region is called west Herzegovina. It is known as one of the most faithful islands of Catholic belief in Communist Yugoslavia although from 1482 to 1872 it was exposed to the severest Islamic pressures under the Turks. From these early days the pastoral office was in the charge of the Franciscans who still minister to parish of Medjugorje today. Beside the main village of Medjugorje the parish includes several smaller villages- Bijakovici, Miletina, Vionica and Surmanci.
The English translation of the Croatian name Medjugorje is "between the mountains" , indeed the village is bordered on two sides by mountains. One is called "Krizevac" ; which in English means 'mountain of the Cross'. In 1933 a concrete cross 12m high was erected on this mountain by the parishioners on the occasion of the 1900th anniversary of the death of Jesus Christ. In September nearly 70,000 people attended a Mass, celebrating the anniversary of this event.
The other mountain is called "Crnica" which translates as 'something black'. It was on this mountain the apparitions of the Mother of God commenced in 1981 and they are still continuing today.
The recent decades the parish of Medjugorje has produced 19 priests, 20 nuns and 3 seminarians, and all this despite the fact the peasant population has never been able to sustain a traditional faith because of severe successive persecutions by the Turks, the National Socialists and now the Communists. Religion to these people is based not so much upon a traditional faith as a conscious act of decision. Any suspicion the district is backward is quite erroneous. Not only have the guest workers of central Europe broadened local horizons, but a large number of multi skilled workers and academics have allowed the district to keep pace with the 20th century.
In the space of about two years approximately one and a half million pilgrims have visited Medjugorje.
THE DRAMATIC FIRST WEEKS
The recent apparitions by the Mother of God in ex-Yugoslavia were the last thing the Church and general population expected.
24. June 1981, St John's Day, a religious holiday, four o'clock in the afternoon: Two girls, Ivanka and Mirjana, go for a walk above their village towards the pasture land used for the sheep. Once there Ivanka sees something shining on the slope of the mountain. She looks closer and sees a luminous young woman. Without even thinking she utters to her companion, "Look the Gospa! " (Gospa is the Croatian name for the Mother of God).
"Better be quiet or somebody might hear you. Why would the Gospa appear to us?"
With this the conversation ends and the girls return home. Naturally they are a little disturbed and tell their relatives about it. That evening they have to fetch the sheep, and with a third girl called Milka, (sister of visionary Marija), return to the same spot.
"The Gospa is there again" exclaims Ivanka as she points with an outstretched hand to a definite place. The other two see it as well, and all three stare in helpless amazement, unable to speak. A fourth girl called Vicka approaches them.
"Come here quickly" the three shout in great excitement. Vicka still a fair distance away calls "What's the matter, is it a snake?"
Vicka runs up to them and upon seeing the shining figure becomes terrified. She takes off her shoes and runs away in stocking feet as though running for dear life, but then realizing what she had seen, stops and returns to the other three. You don't run away from the Mother of God.
Then 16 year old Ivan comes along the path carrying a bag of apples. He sees the girls standing there in silent amazement pointing to the apparition. The boy sees it as well, and motionless with fear he drops the apples and runs away. A second boy (Ivan Ivankovic) who is quite a bit older is near by. He only sees a shining light and considering himself more mature than the younger children he leaves. He does not return during the following days, (and never more has not see Our Lady).
When they get home, Ivan and the four girls, unable to hide their excitement, tell the experience to all their neighbors. The reaction is one of laughter and nobody takes them seriously.
NEXT DAY ON JUNE 25TH., Mirjana, Ivanka, Vicka, Ivan, Jakov and Marija, again go back to the same place, but Milka is missing. (Milka never more has not see Our Lady). All six see the apparition with outstretched arms and run towards her as fast as they can.
Standing directly in front of the Mother of God, the children weep with emotion. They kneel down and pray. Ivanka's mother had passed away two months before. The girl dares to ask the apparition how her mother is.
The Gospa answers:
"She is well. You should not worry about your mother. She is my heavenly angel".
Then the children ask the Gospa if She will come again tomorrow. She replies "Yes I shall return" .
(END OF PART 1)