because every single human being is asking is there a life after this life on earth, I am standing before you here today, I am standing before the entire world and I can easily answer that question. Yes, there is a life after this life, because by God and Our Lady I was given this great grace, that I was able to see my late mother during that apparition time and my mom told me: “My dear child, I’m proud of you.” Ivanka Ivankovic-Elez

A few months ago, at the most recent Medjugorje Youth Festival,  Ivanka Ivankovic-Elez, one of the six visionaries associated with the apparitions of the Virgin Mary said to be occurring in Bosnia Herzogovina  offered an amazing revelation to the Catholic and Christians Pilgrims gathered at the 20th annual Youth Festival.  Ivanka shared her thoughts on “”life after this Life” and typical of so many of the “messages” associated with “Medjugorje” the power of the message seemed to come from the simplicity  and the directness of the words.

Here, in Ivanka’s own words from her speech at the Youth Festival:

“I would like to greet you all with the most beautiful of greetings: Praised be Jesus and Mary. I am so pleased to be here with you today and even more pleased that you are ready to hear the message of Our Lady.

For 28 years I have been asking God the very same question: Why did you choose me? I know that I was given a great grace and also I know that at the same time I was given a great responsibility.

I have accepted this as a gift but at the same time I have been praying all the time that God gives me strength to fulfil all the assignments he has for me.

I lived with my family at Mostar at that time and as always, after school, I used to come to Medjugorje. This is what happened that day on June 24, 1981 when I saw Our Lady for the first time.

On that day, like every day, I was outside the village with Mirjana and we were waiting for other friends to come. I do not how long we were waiting but we got tired of that and then we started walking towards the houses.

While we were walking towards the village I was really forced by something to look towards the hill and then I saw Our Lady. I said to Mirjana, “Mirjana, I see Our Lady on the hill” but Mirjana said, “ Don’t tell me these foolish things.”

I followed Mirjana who was walking back to the village and then we met Milka, the sister of the visionary Marija. Milka saw that something was wrong with me and she asked me what happened, and I told the girls to come back with me, that I had seen Our Lady. We went back and then all three of us saw Our Lady. Vicka also came to us and then two boys, the two Ivans. The apparition kept calling us but none of us dared to climb the hill.

Our Lady was four or five hundred metres away from us. She kept calling us and emotions we felt in our heart were huge. We felt all kinds of emotions in our heart and none of us dared to get closer to her.

Whoever we told that we saw Our Lady that evening, they did not believe us. They told us not to tell such things. That night was the longest night in my life. I was only 15 and I questioned myself the entire night whether what I saw was true or not.

So the next day at the same hour we went back together to the apparition hill. Before we saw Our Lady we saw the light, three times, and when we finally got to her, I cannot describe that moment of meeting with Our Lady because we felt so much love, felt so secure, so much happiness in our hearts.

When we came to her we saw this most beautiful person, maybe 19 or 20 years of age. She had a crown of stars, white veil, greyish dress, and she was standing on a cloud She had the most beautiful blue eyes and long black hair.

I knew that it was the Blessed Mother You see, two months before that day my mother had passed away. Because I knew in my heart that this was the Blessed Virgin Mary I asked her, “Mother, where is my mother?” And she said, “Do not worry, my child, your mother is with me.”

Our Lady told us, “Do not worry. I’ll pray with you always. I’ll come again tomorrow.”

The word spread very quickly so that on the third day people started following us because they saw something was happening with us, so they gave us holy water to bless the apparition. On that third day when Our Lady came, Vicka blessed her and she said, “If you come from God, stay. But if you do not come from God, please leave us.” And then Our Lady smiled back at us and said, “I am the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace.

On that day Our Lady gave the first public message, which was the message of peace. As the days passed by Our Lady asked us to convert, to fast, to do some penance, to pray and go to confession and attend Holy Mass. These are the main messages of Our Lady of Medjugorje.

From 1981 until 1985 I received the apparitions on a daily basis. During that period Our Lady dictated to me her biography. I wrote everything down. She also told me the future of the world and the future of our Church. When I have permission from Our Lady, this will be published.

On the 7th May, 1985, I had the last daily apparition and that was the longest apparition that I have ever had because Our Lady stayed with me one hour.

On that day Our Lady gave me the final and tenth secret and I was told that I would not have the apparitions on a daily basis anymore, but Our Lady promised me that she was going to appear to me once a year on June 25.

From 1985 to today I received the apparition once every year on June 25. But at that last daily apparition I was given the greatest gift, not just for myself but for the entire world. And because every single human being is asking is there a life after this life on earth, I am standing before you here today, I am standing before the entire world and I can easily answer that question. Yes, there is a life after this life, because by God and Our Lady I was given this great grace, that I was able to see my late mother during that apparition time and my mom told me: “My dear child, I’m proud of you.”

For 28 years Our Lady has been telling us which road we need to take in our life. She is showing us the way and we have to decide which road we are going to take in our life.

Our Lady has given a different mission to each one of us visionaries. My mission is to pray for families. So every day I pray for families.

The last apparition I had was this year on June 25 and that apparition lasted ten minutes and Our Lady spoke to me about the tenth secret and she advised for all of us to become apostles of peace and to pray for peace. Our Lady ended her message with “Peace, peace, peace.”

Let us be reminded in prayer. Let us pray for each other. Our Lady wants us to be be in peace, not to be afraid, to know that she is there for us all of the time.

Finally, when you leave Medjugorje I would like you to take peace and love from Medjugorje back to your home and to your country. Thank you all for everything.”

Commenti disabilitati su Medjugorje Seer – “Yes, there is life after this life”
 | Posted by | Categories: Medjugorje, Testimonianze |

Notare come allude chiaramente della credibilità dei veggenti di Medjugorje e come sottolinei la necessità di ascoltare e guardare a lungo prima di parlare: evidente riferimento al Vescovo locale che non ha mai voluto incontrare i veggenti. (nostra trascrizione/traduzione, video completo – solo omelia)

Cari fratelli e sorelle, qui in chiesa o nei luoghi davanti alla chiesa o nel salone giallo, siamo tutti consapevoli che è un grande privilegio non dover festeggiare il nuovo anno con lo Champagne – forse più tardi – [applausi e risa] ma con Maria, Giuseppe, il Bambino nella greppia, con gli angeli.
Tutti noi siamo venuti a Medjugorje per essere in questo giorno in special modo vicini alla Madre del Signore. O più esattamente dobbiamo dire che siamo venuti qui perché sappiamo che la Madre del Signore vuol essere vicina a noi.
Con lei vogliamo iniziare il nuovo anno, e la prima cosa che mi commuove, se penso al presepio e ai pastori, è che non c’era nessun angelo. Qui [indica il presepio alla base dell’altare] ci sono due angeli sopra la grotta, ma nel vangelo non ci sono; erano nel campo dei pastori, una grande schiera di angeli, ma Maria e Giuseppe ne hanno solo sentito parlare, i pastori glielo hanno raccontato!
Neanche voi avete visto la Madonna, ma qui ci sono delle persone che ce lo hanno raccontato. E noi confidiamo che la Madonna ci è veramente vicina. La fede viene dall’ascolto e mi impressiona per prima cosa che nel vangelo di oggi si parla di ascolto. Prima di tutto dobbiamo ascoltare il lieto annuncio. Abbiamo due orecchie, due occhi e una bocca: questo significa che dobbiamo ascoltare molto, guardare molto e poi parlare. E cosa dobbiamo dire? Dobbiamo raccontare ciò che abbiamo visto e udito. Il mondo necessita di una nuova evangelizzazione, questa avviene solo se è impossibile che tacciano coloro che hanno visto e udito. Tutti noi abbiamo ricevuto la fede e nel battesimo abbiamo ricevuto il compito di comunicarla ad altri. I pastori hanno raccontato ciò che era stato loro detto e da questo tutto è continuato. Il vangelo, la buona novella, è stata raccontata, e quelli che l’hanno riferita erano credibili. Quelli che hanno udito, hanno anche visto che le parole erano in accordo con la vita, che ciò che i testimoni dicevano trovava corrispondenza anche nella loro vita.
Come possiamo diventare testimoni del vangelo? Prima di tutto in quanto guardiamo a Maria. Maria conservava e meditava nel suo cuore tutto quello che era accaduto. Fratelli e sorelle, ciò di cui urgentemente abbiamo bisogno nel nostro tempo è la preghiera. Lo dico con un po’ di tristezza, so che prego troppo poco. So che la preghiera è la vita. Senza un vivo rapporto con Dio la nostra vita diventa arida e vuota. Perché la Madonna ci dice continuamente di pregare? Prendetevi il tempo per la preghiera. Un buon proposito per il nuovo anno, per noi sacerdoti, diaconi e per tutti. Tempo per la preghiera. C’è così tanta forza, così tanta gioia, troppo chiaro. Preghiamo Maria che ci aiuti a pregare di più. Se preghiamo le nostre parole sono piene di vita e poi la nostra testimonianza è credibile.
Vorrei spendere due parole su ciò che l’apostolo Paolo ci ha detto. L’anno paolino è già finito e ora siamo nell’anno sacerdotale, ma le parole dell’apostolo Paolo erano così forti perché erano piene di vita. Nella lettura di oggi ci dice che Dio ha mandato suo Figlio per farci diventare figli. Le figlie non sono escluse, si intende, figli e figlie insieme, ma Paolo dice che siamo chiamati a diventare figli, e non schiavi. Così come Gesù è figlio di Dio, così possiamo anche noi chiamarlo Padre. All’inizio di quest’anno l’apostolo Paolo ci dice: voi siete figli e non schiavi.
Io penso che Medjugorje è un posto dove si confessa molto e la confessione è la liberazione dalla schiavitù del peccato. Dio ci vuole avere come figli. Libertà dei figli di Dio, e per questo ci ha donato il sacramento della confessione. Dobbiamo avere un nuovo atteggiamento verso Dio, poterlo chiamare Abbà. Gesù ci ha chiamato ad avere fiducia in lui, ad avere fiducia in Dio. C’è troppa paura di Dio in noi, Jezu ufam tobie, Gesù confido in te – so anche il polacco – [alcune risate, quelli che capiscono la battuta], Jezu ufam tobie, Gesù confido in te [applausi].
Il Papa Giovanni Paolo II ci ha lasciato questo messaggio: abbiate fiducia nella misericordia di Dio, abbiate fiducia nella misericordia di Gesù. A volte, avere fiducia può essere eroico, quando la vita si fa difficile, quando un matrimonio diventa un peso, quando una malattia ci opprime, quando non sappiamo come andrà col nostro lavoro. Allora, dire Jezu ufam tobie, può essere eroico. Avere fiducia è veramente un atto di fede, e ancora guardiamo a Maria: chi ha donato un atto di fiducia, di fede, più grande di Maria? Jezu ufam tobie: questo sia il nostro programma per l’anno che viene.
E’ quasi mezzanotte e si sentono i botti, ma noi non tiriamo petardi, noi cantiamo [applauso]. E un’ultima parola: i pastori tornarono glorificando e lodando Dio per quello che avevano visto e udito. Anche noi torneremo a casa e per poter essere testimoni della buona novella, dobbiamo prima di tutto glorificare Dio. I pastori glorificarono e lodarono Dio per quello che avevano visto e udito, spero che anche tutti noi torneremo a casa, faremo il viaggio di ritorno, dopo questi giorni passati qui, e glorificheremo Dio per ciò che abbiamo visto e udito. Allora crederanno anche a noi quando racconteremo, anche la nostra parola sarà degna di fede.
Adesso è quasi mezzanotte ed è il momento giusto per proclamare il nostro Credo. Con questa fede entriamo nel nuovo anno. Dio benedica il nuovo anno. [lungo applauso]

Tratta da Medjugorje Bolzano

Commenti disabilitati su Omelia del Cardinal Schonborn alla veglia di Capodanno, Medjugorje 31 dicembre 2009
 | Posted by | Categories: Medjugorje, Schonborn, Testimonianze |

“And because every single human being is asking is there a life after this life on earth, I am standing before you here today, I am standing before the entire world and I can easily answer that question. Yes, there is a life after this life, because by God and Our Lady I was given this great grace, that I was able to see my late mother during that apparition time and my mom told me: “My dear child, I’m proud of you.”- Ivanka Ivankovic-Elez

Ivanka Ivankovic-Elez one of the six Medjugorje Visionaires of the Virgin Mary shared some amazing revelations to Catholic and Christian Pilgrims at the 20th Medjugorje Youth Festival.

In Ivanka’s words:

“I would like to greet you all with the most beautiful of greetings: Praised be Jesus and Mary. I am so pleased to be here with you today and even more pleased that you are ready to hear the message of Our Lady.

For 28 years I have been asking God the very same question: Why did you choose me? I know that I was given a great grace and also I know that at the same time I was given a great responsibility.

I have accepted this as a gift but at the same time I have been praying all the time that God gives me strength to fulfil all the assignments he has for me.

I lived with my family at Mostar at that time and as always, after school, I used to come to Medjugorje. This is what happened that day on June 24, 1981 when I saw Our Lady for the first time.

On that day, like every day, I was outside the village with Mirjana and we were waiting for other friends to come. I do not how long we were waiting but we got tired of that and then we started walking towards the houses.

While we were walking towards the village I was really forced by something to look towards the hill and then I saw Our Lady. I said to Mirjana, “Mirjana, I see Our Lady on the hill” but Mirjana said, “ Don’t tell me these foolish things.”

I followed Mirjana who was walking back to the village and then we met Milka, the sister of the visionary Marija. Milka saw that something was wrong with me and she asked me what happened, and I told the girls to come back with me, that I had seen Our Lady. We went back and then all three of us saw Our Lady. Vicka also came to us and then two boys, the two Ivans. The apparition kept calling us but none of us dared to climb the hill.

Our Lady was four or five hundred metres away from us. She kept calling us and emotions we felt in our heart were huge. We felt all kinds of emotions in our heart and none of us dared to get closer to her.

Whoever we told that we saw Our Lady that evening, they did not believe us. They told us not to tell such things. That night was the longest night in my life. I was only 15 and I questioned myself the entire night whether what I saw was true or not.

So the next day at the same hour we went back together to the apparition hill. Before we saw Our Lady we saw the light, three times, and when we finally got to her, I cannot describe that moment of meeting with Our Lady because we felt so much love, felt so secure, so much happiness in our hearts.

When we came to her we saw this most beautiful person, maybe 19 or 20 years of age. She had a crown of stars, white veil, greyish dress, and she was standing on a cloud She had the most beautiful blue eyes and long black hair.

I knew that it was the Blessed Mother You see, two months before that day my mother had passed away. Because I knew in my heart that this was the Blessed Virgin Mary I asked her, “Mother, where is my mother?” And she said, “Do not worry, my child, your mother is with me.”

Our Lady told us, “Do not worry. I’ll pray with you always. I’ll come again tomorrow.”

The word spread very quickly so that on the third day people started following us because they saw something was happening with us, so they gave us holy water to bless the apparition. On that third day when Our Lady came, Vicka blessed her and she said, “If you come from God, stay. But if you do not come from God, please leave us.” And then Our Lady smiled back at us and said, “I am the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace.

On that day Our Lady gave the first public message, which was the message of peace. As the days passed by Our Lady asked us to convert, to fast, to do some penance, to pray and go to confession and attend Holy Mass. These are the main messages of Our Lady of Medjugorje.

From 1981 until 1985 I received the apparitions on a daily basis. During that period Our Lady dictated to me her biography. I wrote everything down. She also told me the future of the world and the future of our Church. When I have permission from Our Lady, this will be published.

On the 7th May, 1985, I had the last daily apparition and that was the longest apparition that I have ever had because Our Lady stayed with me one hour.

On that day Our Lady gave me the final and tenth secret and I was told that I would not have the apparitions on a daily basis anymore, but Our Lady promised me that she was going to appear to me once a year on June 25.

From 1985 to today I received the apparition once every year on June 25. But at that last daily apparition I was given the greatest gift, not just for myself but for the entire world. And because every single human being is asking is there a life after this life on earth, I am standing before you here today, I am standing before the entire world and I can easily answer that question. Yes, there is a life after this life, because by God and Our Lady I was given this great grace, that I was able to see my late mother during that apparition time and my mom told me: “My dear child, I’m proud of you.”

For 28 years Our Lady has been telling us which road we need to take in our life. She is showing us the way and we have to decide which road we are going to take in our life.

Our Lady has given a different mission to each one of us visionaries. My mission is to pray for families. So every day I pray for families.

The last apparition I had was this year on June 25 and that apparition lasted ten minutes and Our Lady spoke to me about the tenth secret and she advised for all of us to become apostles of peace and to pray for peace. Our Lady ended her message with “Peace, peace, peace.”

Let us be reminded in prayer. Let us pray for each other. Our Lady wants us to be be in peace, not to be afraid, to know that she is there for us all of the time.

Finally, when you leave Medjugorje I would like you to take peace and love from Medjugorje back to your home and to your country. Thank you all for everything.”

Tratto da MinistryValue.com

Commenti disabilitati su Medjugorje Seer – “Yes, there is a life after this life”
 | Posted by | Categories: Medjugorje, Testimonianze |

Lunedì 28 Dicembre è giunto a Medjugorje, in visita privata, l’Arcivescovo di Vienna il Cardinal Dott. Christoph Schönborn e resterà alcuni giorni a Medjugorje. Il Cardinale desidera soprattutto, oltre a visitare il Cenacolo – che ha una sede anche in Austria – essere, in questo famoso luogo di preghiera, uno che prega. Il Cardinale Schönborn (nato nel 1945) dal 1975 al 1991 è stato professore di Dogmatica e di Teologia dell’Oriente Cristiano a Friburgo (Svizzera), mentre dal 1987 al 1992 è stato segretario della redazione per la pubblicazione del nuovo Catechismo della Chiesa Cattolica. Dal 1991 è stato Vescovo ausiliare e dal 1995 è Arcivescovo di Vienna. Nel 1998 è stato nominato Cardinale e scelto come presidente della Conferenza Episcopale dell’Austria. Il Cardinale Schönborn oggi è uno dei più importanti esperti di Teologia dell’Oriente Cristiano e, tra l’altro, è anche membro della Congregazione Vaticana per la Dottrina della Fede.

Tratto da Medjugorje.hr

Commenti disabilitati su Il Cardinale di Vienna Dott. Christoph Schonborn a Medjugorje
 | Posted by | Categories: Medjugorje, Schonborn |

“Our Lady says that we cannot consider ourselves as true believers if we do not see Jesus Christ in every single person we meet”

Q: Has Our Lady said anything about other apparitions?

Only about Fatima. She said, “What I have started in Fatima I will finish in Medjugorje. My heart will triumph”. I cannot go into details. That’s the only apparition she mentioned aside from Medjugorje.

Here is the entirte transcript

A talk (question and answer session) given by Mirjana in the Oasis of Peace on 3rd October 2009

Mirjana: We will start our meeting with one Hail Mary. Queen of Peace, Pray for us.

We have gathered so that you may ask whatever you may be interested in. Anything that can help you to understand Medjugorje, and if I know, I will be so glad to respond to you because I desire with my entire heart that you may understand what Our Lady desires from us. The first thing is, she invited you. She needs apostles. That’s why feel free to ask anything that can help you.

Q: Yesterday’s message was very serious and very sad, can you elaborate a little bit?

Message was very sad and you were lucky because you did not have a chance to see the expression on Our Lady’s face so that your heart breaks. Because she is mother, and as she said in one of her messages, she desires to bring all of us as the most beautiful bouquet of flowers to her Son. Once she realises that we do not see, we do not understand that, she is the way she was yesterday. Talking about her message, I have no right to comment on the message because I received it the same way you did. Same like you, I also have to reflect on message in order to understand what it tells me. But I would like to ask you one thing. Yesterday when I talked with some people about message, most people said ‘when shall this world change, when shall the world understand?’ but no one said ’when shall I understand, when shall I change myself?’ I am only asking from all of you to start from ourselves to see where we make mistake and what we can change. Once we change, it will be easier to change others, not always put the blame on others. We should start with ourselves.

Q: She said her heart was seizing?

I also say that my heart seizes when I see her so sad. Our Lady had a very sad expression on her face, filled with pain because she was looking at us and we know what she was able to see within us..

Q: Do you always see her or sometimes just hear her voice?

On the second of every month, I have normal apparition. I can hear her and I can see her.

Q: There are groups around saying we can go to heaven through other religions. How does Jesus see that? How does Mary see that?

When Our Lady asked me to pray for unbelievers, then my question was ‘who are unbelievers?’ and she said all those who do not feel church as home and God as their Father. If you look at our Lady’s messages further, Holy Mass is in the first place, and then confession, communion, etc which is part of the Holy Catholic church. But is not me who is supposed to decide. I can only repeat what Our Lady says. Very often she would say, we can possess anything in this world but if we do not have peace we have nothing. And the only true peace is the one my Son gives.

Q: How can I be a true apostle to others?

If you live Our Lady’s messages, and if you follow her, it means you are walking up to Jesus. And then your life will be story. Others will see in you what they are looking for because Our Lady doesn’t want us to preach. I’m not talking about priests here (points to a row of priests and laughs) but she would like from us to talk with our own life. So that every unbeliever can see that something within ourselves. What did I mean about that? Let me give you a cute example from a very little thing.

I was here at evening Mass in Medjugorje. I couldn’t sit down and I have a problem with my back. I noticed a little space in one of those benches and I sat down. But all around were Italians (laughter) and all of them started yelling at me “ stand up, that is our bench, we were first one to come etc”. I stood up and kept quiet. Later a lady who recognised me was passing by and then after that they wanted to give me the whole bench to sit. But why am I saying this?

Imagine if I were an unbeliever and for the first time I desire to enter into a Catholic church to see what is that all about. And Catholics, who say they know the love of God welcome me in that way. Would I ever enter again there? And whose responsibility would that be? That is what Our Lady says, that we have a great responsibility. Only love. That is the answer to everything. Our Lady says that we cannot consider ourselves as true believers if we do not see Jesus Christ in every single person we meet. That is the hardest thing but we have to reach that point.

Q; Have you received a message from Our Lady about forces fighting wars?

That is already question you are supposed to ask from a priest because I am just a visionary and I can only say what Our Lady says to me. I do not know anything else. I as a visionary also ask help from a priest because I am just like you.

Q: Has the question been asked?

No.

Q: Isn’t it selfish to just petition for ourselves to change?

I do not pray for myself. I pray for my family but I only say ‘my family in your hands’. I just say we in your hands because you (God) know what is the best for us when I pray. I pray the most for unbelievers because that is where we all are.

Q: When we are trying to change ourselves according to our Mother’s messages, what about the little nagging self doubts we have?

My personal opinion, we can always do better, we can always be better people we can always pray better and we grow in that. I always recommend to everybody, do not waste your time judging yourself in your own prayer. Pray and God will help you. Sometimes you just feel like you prayed great, sometimes not but Our Lady always offers her hand as Mother and she will always raise you up. Do not forget, God is love and He loves you and He knows you and it is important that you desire to come closer to Him and He will help you.

Q: I have a hard time saying the rosary. Would you help us to know when you are praying the rosary, are you supposed to think of the words ? My mind wanders while I’m doing that.

Our Lady asks from us to pray with heart. I understand that to mean that every word that comes out of my mouth would pass through my heart first. So, if I say Hail Mary, then I truly with heart greet Mary. Full of grace, that I may feel within myself how much grace Our Lady gives me and to everyone. It is never a repetition for me because I always feel some new, different things when I pray Hail Mary. For example, when I reflect on Our Lady was assumed into Heaven, I think about her. I talk with her. I ask her about how she felt, all that she thought. I do not see her, I do not hear her, but just with heart. Try that. If your thoughts still wander, put the rosary aside and talk with Our Lady and tell her why is that so. What is a burden, why you can’t be still and pray. Whatever you have in your heart, give it to her.

Q: When Jesus said ‘many are called but few are chosen’ I’m not quite sure what He meant by that.

Mirjana smiled and said; We could talk this whole afternoon about what He meant. I like to talk a lot but if we start this topic now we will never end ! You said it. Many are called, few are chosen. What do you think why that is so, because Jesus said that to me and to you, so everyone has his own opinion about it. Even here, everyone is invited but how many will understand and how many of them will become true apostles? I do not know.

Q: What did Our Lady mean when she said this is a time of grace?

Isn’t this a great grace? This immense love of God to send us His mother for so many years, to understand and to take the right path. Doesn’t that show how much God loves us?

Q: Have you or any of the other visionaries ever met with the Holy Father?

It was me. Others were jealous. (laughter). I was in St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican with all other pilgrims. I was with an Italian priest. So Pope was walking by and he was blessing. He blessed me and just passed by. The priest with me said “ Holy Father, this is Mirjana from Medjugorje” and he came back and blessed me again. Then he left. And I said to priest, most likely he thought just I just need a double blessing (laughter). In the afternoon, we received a note to go to Castelgondolfo , close to Rome, the next day. And me and him were alone together and among other things he said to me, I know everything, I have been following everything. Ask pilgrims to pray for my intentions. Keep Medjugorje because Medjugorje is the hope for the entire world.

A priest told me that from the very beginning, Pope was very fond of Medjugorje because two months before the apparitions in Medjugorje started, Pope was praying to Our Lady to come again on earth. He said, I cannot do it all alone because Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Poland etc, all communist, I cannot do it on my own. I need you. And later he heard that in Yugoslavia, communist country, in a little village, Our Lady appeared and he said ‘that is response to my prayers‘.

Q: Mirjana, how beautiful is Our Mother?

That is not only superficial beauty that you see from outside. That is something that is radiating out of her. As children, we asked Our Lady a childish question. We said, how come that you are so beautiful? She said “ I am beautiful because I love”. And she said “My children, if you want to be that beautiful, then love”. At that time when that apparition happened, Jakov was only nine and a half years old. So when Our Lady left, he said, I think that she wasn’t saying the truth. We all said, how can you dare to say that our heavenly Mother is not saying the truth. He said, yes, but look at us visionaries, some of us can love until the end of our loves but we’ll never be as beautiful as she said, because he did not understand what kind of beauty Our Lady was speaking about. But even today he doesn’t understand many things. (laughter).

Q: Before Our Lady comes, do you have dream or some other feelings?

I never dream of Our Lady, never. Usually that is something that you get excited about during the day, that’s what you dream, but I never dreamed of Our Lady. I always prepare myself the day before by fasting and prayer and night before apparition, I spend in prayer. So then I cannot dream ! I don’t think of anything else because it is impossible. I just desire to pray because only that way I will have peace, and only that way I am capable to wait until tomorrow to come. I think it is all God’s help because without God’s help we would not be able to live a normal life. Let me give you an example. I’m a mother and I have two daughters and as every normal mother, I would give my life for them, but when I am with Our Lady, my daughters do not exist. There is only great desire that she would take me with her. You can only try to imagine what a pain it is when Our Lady leaves. I simply do not even have strength to keep a pencil or pen in my hand. Thanks be to God for Miki, he writes it down and I just go straight to my room to pray. Then I pray for one hour, two or three, depends. And through this prayer, God gives me the strength to understand, and to go forward.

Q: When you say you pray, is it always the rosary or talking ?

It is rosary, seven Our Fathers, talking, but I always pray rosary of St Anthony because he is my dearest saint (lots of people went ahh), because St Anthony is the only saint that you can make deals with (laughter), ‘you do that for me and I’ll do that for you’

Q. Mirjana, how come you didn’t become a nun?

At the very beginning when we were children, we asked Our Lady, what do you desire from us, from our life? She said whatever you feel in your heart. If you decide to be priest or nun I desire that it is visible that I was with you. And if you decide to have families, I desire that you try your best to be an example to the other families. And that is all she ever said about my personal life. Everybody asks me that. Then I read about Bernadette to see what happened to her. She didn’t want at all to become a nun but they forced her to. But we live in a different time now and so we were not forced to.

Q: What does Our Lady says abut division in families? (question not completely audible)

I believe that Our Lady doesn’t have to talk about it because if you keep the vow before God…Here, when we get married in the church, we put our right hand on the Cross so that God may help me, so there’s no divorce. If its good, then thanks be to God. If not, then just take your cross. Because you cannot be only partially Catholic. You are or you are not. Saddest thing is we Catholics try to justify things that cannot be justified. We are or we are not. We follow Jesus or we do not follow him.

Q: What is it like for you to be present at another visionary’s apparition, for example, Jakov at Christmas?

I never, that would be too painful knowing what he is looking at and I cannot. While he is having apparition for example, I will pray in my room and (anyway) he would be teasing me afterwards ! (laughter)

Q: So divorce is not acceptable?

Of course. Husband can leave wife and wife can leave husband but she is his wife and he is her husband. If my husband for example leaves me, I would not be able to look for another husband because he is my husband before God. What God binds once, only He can separate. I cannot force my husband to be with me but even if he leaves, he still remains my husband.

Q: And annulment?

Pointing to a row of priests Mirjjana says, Here is the priests! (laughter). I am not planning to divorce, that’s why I am not interested in annulments. I know that if you did not tell about some illness you may have or if you do not want to have children, it could be an excuse. Then church will give you an annulment, if that’s the case, as far as I’ve heard but I never questioned too much about it. After a pause and with a broad grin she added: But if I get interested in that, then I will ask (laughter).

Q: Do your children know what is happening and how do they react to all of that?

They are 18 and 15 years old and they know very well what’s happening. Me and Marko always tried to bring them closer to God ever since they were born. We thought if they have a sense of God’s love they will understand the apparitions. Then we explained to them that from time to time Our Lady chooses some people not because they are the best but because in that moment, she needs such people. And they look at me as a normal person. We all ..(inaudible) ..only God. That is the way they …(inaudible)..When I talked about responsibility of parents, our children look at our own life. Some example of my older daughter Maria; When she was about 2 years old, I did not talk to her about apparitions because I thought she is too young to understand. But one day while she was playing with her friend in the room, I was watching over. Then I heard this other girl say “You know my mum drives a car”. My daughter Maria remained quiet for a moment and said “ A big deal, my mum talks to Our Lady every day”. So without even saying a word, she understood.

Q: Emotionally speaking, if you had to use one word to describe how you feel when you in the presence of the Mother of God, what word would you use?

That is heaven. They ask me did I see heaven and I say I did not see heaven but to be with Our Lady is to be in heaven. They ask me, did you touch her, did she touch you? I never even felt a need to do that because when she is looking at you, she is embracing you and kissing you. You simply feel you don’t want it ever to stop. The greatest love on earth beside love for God is love for your children. Imagine when you do not even think about your children. You forget that they exist. Only Our Lady so she may look at you. I think that would be like in heaven.

Q: What lesson are we supposed to learn from fasting?

Again, I can just tell you my own personal opinion. When I’m fasting, I’m proving to myself that I am the boss of my own body and that I can do for God anything I want. That nothing can stop me. And with this fasting, I’m showing to God that with this little, I am ready to do even more if that is what He desires. Through fasting my prayer is stronger. I feel closer to Him. Again, that’s just my own personal feelings.

Q: Has Our Lady said anything about Garabandal?

Only about Fatima. She said, “What I have started in Fatima I will finish in Medjugorje. My heart will triumph”. I cannot go into details. That’s the only apparition she mentioned aside from Medjugorje.

Q: Some of you visionaries have public apparitions and some of you have private. Does Our Lady give that to you as a choice?

There is no private apparitions because Our Lady doesn’t come (just) to me or Jakov or Maria, she comes to the entire world. Lets take Ivan as an example. He has the apparitions in the Chapel and then not everybody can fit in so he does like one day for priests, one day for families, one day for sick people so that everyone can more or less fit in. I never had any private apparitions. I do not even know what it means.

Q: Is there conflict with the Bishop here ? What is that about?

The greatest authority is Pope and the way Pope says, everybody should obey. The latest commission we had here in Medjugorje was before the war, that was when the war started, that was when the Bishops conference of ex-Yugoslavia said that pilgrims are allowed to come to Medjugorje, that priests will accept them and they will provide masses for them, confessions etc. But decision about whether Medjugorje is authentic or not, that will take time. The latest thing is that Medjugorje simply went outside the frame of our Diocese and that it will go into hands of Vatican.

Q: Is it like a suffering for Mary to come on the earth, for us not to be converted?

Its not painful. She is mother. You are young, most likely you are not married? (questioner replies ‘no‘) Once you have your own children, no matter what they do, you will run after them and try to help them because that is mother. Same as with Our Lady.

Q: On your last daily apparition, I read that you had a long conversation with Our Lady about heaven?

We were talking about secrets. That was my last daily apparition, that is when Our Lady gave me that last secret and then she explained that I wasn’t to have her daily apparitions anymore. And she explained to me the way I’m going to have them now (from then onwards) and on that apparition, Christmas 1982, we did not talk about heaven. On one occasion, I asked Our Lady, how come God is love and He loves us so much and He put some people for eternity in hell? She said, it is not God who decided that, it is people who decided to go there. I do not think I talked about anything else with Our Lady. Maybe you read about Marija or Vicka.

Q: This question concerned a marriage partner being an unbeliever. The actual question although just audible was posed by someone whose English was not clear.

I think you forgot, I am just a visionary. Its usually like (this) that husband is unbeliever. That is why God put her husband in her way, so he is her responsibility. She needs to help him to come to know God and God’s love, not through criticising, judging or forcing but simply through her love, her example, and her prayer. That is the only way.

Q: Did Our Lady ever share with you about what is the more terrible sin?

She didn’t talk with me what is greater or lesser sin, but only what we should do to avoid sin. And she didn’t tell me about which sin is more or less. What comes to my mind right now, for me personally, the greatest sin is not to have love towards your neighbour. Because when you have love for your neighbour, you will not kill, you will not steal, you will not deceive. You will not do anything bad because you will have love within you. That is what I personally think.

Q: The sign that will appear in Medjugorje, I read that when that appears and if you have not converted, it will be too late.

( I think Mirjana may have misunderstood the nature of this question as evidenced by her reply)

That is not true. Our Lady said like this: This is the last time I visit earth in this way. Now this would be my personal opinion, what she meant with that: these many years, many visionaries but I never thought that she would be last time on earth That is wrong interpretation. Same as in one of her messages, Our Lady said “ I am giving you my motherly blessing but from today on, you are that blessing.” But many people misunderstood that and now they go out and they bless people. That is not what Our Lady intended to say. She intended to say that our life should become a blessing for other people because only priests are supposed to bless. She said their priestly hands are blessed by my Son. And we visionaries, we cannot bless. I always ask pilgrims, don’t ask me to do that. I cannot bless anyone except my own children and that is my motherly blessing, because I also need blessing from a priest.

Q: How did you convince your family to follow you?

I lived with my parents in Sarajevo and I came to spend summer vacation here. I’m always kidding with visionaries when I say Our Lady was waiting for me to come (laughter). So when apparitions started, my aunt called my mum by phone and she didn’t know how to tell that to her. My mother thought that I am in hospital, that I’m dying but my aunt said, no, its not about that ! She just says that she sees Our Lady. My mother said “ Is she normal to you?” (laughter). My aunt said “she looks the same like before” then mum said “there must be something happening with her”. They came right away from Sarajevo. Who knows you the best? ..your parents. So they were with me from the beginning, they helped me. As I told you, I was not from here. I was forced to go back to Sarajevo right away and then I had hardest time. Because here, all around we have Catholics and Croats. In Sarajevo very few Catholics, most are Muslims or Orthodox. It wasn’t my choice to go back to Sarajevo. As we lived in Sarajevo, every single day, police was in our home. It was terrible time for years and my father just told me, you just go on, say the truth, be not afraid, God will help us. And that is how it truly was. God helped us but it wasn’t easy. There was only me, my mother, father and brother and everybody else separated from us because it wasn’t good to be with us in communism. I was only fifteen years old and I was state enemy and then out of fear, no one wants to be close to you.

Q: Why do you think the Virgin Mary chose you as a visionary?

Can’t you see ? (laughter). I’ve been talking for an hour and you ask me that question! (laughter). Mirjana said in English “ I’m joking, I’m joking”

If you desire to be an example to unbeliever, if you desire to show that you have faith, that we have love, then you have to smile. You have to joke, you have to show that you have God. If you’re always worried, nervous, serious, then an unbeliever will say ‘she’s not any different to me. Why would I change?’ That’s why I prefer to joke. Why did Our Lady choose me? On one occasion, we asked her, why six of us, because we were the same as every other child here. All she said was “because I need you six the way you are”. And all six of us are different individuals, only Our Lady could put us together. I always remember words of late Fr Slavko, a priest who passed away on the Cross Hill. He was my husband’s uncle. He was coming to our home all the time. One day he came very upset and I said ‘what happened, what made you angry?’. He said ‘how can you ask me something like that, for if I were Our Lady, I would never choose six of you. For me the greatest sign that Our Lady is truly present here is the fact that she chose six of you‘. Because poor Fr Slavko, for six months he tried to gather six of us together at same time. He didn’t make it !

Q: What has Our Lady said about purgatory?

Our Lady is asking from us to put in our daily prayers the souls in purgatory and to offer Masses for them. Not to go to the rectory, not to pay for the Mass but to be present during that Holy Mass and to pray during that Holy Mass.

Q: Does Our Lady ever discuss war?

No

Q: Why are we not allowed to know the secrets until a certain time?

That is God’s will. I never think about secrets. I don’t even think about it, because it is dear God who keeps the secrets and His will be done. For example this morning, I spoke to Italians , maybe you saw there was thousands of them ! (laughter). Any every question they asked started with why, why, why, why this, why that, waving their hands. Then I said to them, you know why Our Lady did not appear in Italy but in Croatia and they said again ’why?’. (laughter). I said if she appeared in Italy she would run away after 3rd day (laughter) because it would always be ’why, why, why?’. Whatever she said, we just accepted it the way it is. I never said ’why’ because whatever Our Lady says, that is for our good and it is not up to me to ask why.

Q: Our Lady gave you her autobiography?

Vicka.

Q: When will that be shared with us?

Mirjana just smiled and replied Ask Vicka

Q: What can you do to help people who live different lifestyles to change their lives?

I would just pray for them. I put them in God’s hands and I pray for them because I feel sorry for them, because they simply go against the nature, and nature was created by God, so that it means you go against God. Mirjana said in English “ everything what you are doing with your heart will help. It’s important that you doing with your heart”. Its beautiful that you are worried for them so much. That means that you love your neighbour and I’m glad that there is no judgements in your words, only love. And that is what Our Lady desires from us, not to judge but to love them and to pray for them.

Q: Has your husband ever doubted your word?

He would not remain alive if he doubted (laughter). My husband comes from a Catholic family, he’s Fr Slavko’s nephew. The two of us grew up together. We know each other from birth. He said when the apparitions started, as soon as they told me that you are involved, I believed immediately. Because we know each other from birth. I was a good girl ! (laughter).Let me give you an example. In Sarajevo we Catholic children would secretly go to the catechism. It would always be one mother who would take four or five of us. I was about six years old. My mum told me, if someone along the way stops you and ask where are you going, tell them that we are going to have an ice-cream or something else. And one particular day, my teacher who was communist, was walking by and she asked me “where have you been ?” I was supposed to lie to her. I looked at her and said “ I truly have no idea where I have been “ (laughter). I couldn’t say I was shopping or buying an ice-cream or something so the best way was to say I didn’t know.

We will finish now. We’ll finish with Hail Mary and we have so many priests with us, they didn’t help me so much with questions, (laughter) but they can still give us blessing.
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Il cattolicesimo magico vive ancora in Italia? Se in Occidente la sua versione popolare tende a scomparire, nel nostro paese il fenomeno, specie quello che rientra nel filone del “carismatismo” è in crescita. Marco Marzano, docente di Sociologia all’Università di Bergamo, ha raccontato il suo viaggio ne il “Cattolicesimo cattolico(Bompiani, pagg. 187, euro 9.50) andando di persona a Medjugorie, tra i riti dei fedeli, i pellegrinaggi e le apparizioni mariane oltre ad addentrarsi nei gruppi carismatici. Ecco cosa ci ha raccontato.

“Cattolicesimo magico” si propone come “un’indagine etnografica”. Perché non religiosa o sociologica?

Il libro non è un’astratta analisi sociologica, né un testo di teologia ma piuttosto un vero racconto. E’ la storia del mio «viaggio» dentro «il cattolicesimo magico» attraverso il mio pellegrinaggio a Medjugorje e un singolare «corso di formazione all’evangelizzazione» organizzato da appartenenti al movimento cattolico Rinnovamento nello Spirito (RNS) Solo nell’ultimo capitolo del libro avanzo un tentativo di interpretazione dei fenomeni che ho studiato, delle cose che ho visto. E ho fatto tutto questo immergendomi nel contesto, come avviene in tante ricerche sociologiche.

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Padre Jozo

18 dicembre 2009

Cari amici proprio oggi ho ricevuto notizie riguardo Padre Jozo. Sono giunte voci riguardo la sua salute e il suo stato… scoraggianti ma vi rassicuro che in questo momento sta benissimo (nonostante il suo stato di salute) è curato dalle suore in Austria e non si trova in nessuno stato di disagio anzi, sta benissimo vi ripeto, per quanto mi è stato riferito da una persona di Medjugorje a lui cara la quale lo ha incontrato pochi giorni fa.

Sono giunte notizie riguardo ad interessi economici dei veggenti, il consiglio che do a tutti è quello di accogliere tutto quanto ci viene riferito con molta prudenza perchè sempre solo una parte della medaglia che ha SEMPRE due facce, cioè una spiegazione comprensibile e razionale. Tutto viene fatto alla luce del sole nonostante  i limiti umani che tante volte ci portano  a cader nella tentazione. Preghiamo per  i veggenti in quanto uomini come noi ma sollecitati a grandi tentazioni, grandi prove e anche sofferenze come nel caso di Vicka che al momento giunge notizia sia ancora sofferente. Ognuno provato in un modo diverso. Perciò preghiamo e offriamo digiuni per loro perchè siano testimoni veraci fino alla fine della reale presenza di Maria Regina della Pace nella loro vita.

….

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La parrocchia di Medjugorje si sta preparando quest’anno al Natale, come in precedenza, con una Novena che è iniziata il 15 dicembre. Le sante messe mattutine vengono celebrate, nella gremita chiesa di San Giacomo, ogni giorno alle 6, tranne le domeniche, e la Gioventù Francescana Frama le accompagna col canto e rende le celebrazioni ancor più belle. I parrocchiani ed i pellegrini si arrampicano ogni giorno sulla collina delle apparizioni alle 2 pomeridiane per pregare il rosario, mentre il programma di preghiera serale comincia alle 17 ogni giorno sempre con la preghiera del santo rosario. A causa del numero solitamente elevato di pellegrini durante il Natale, i parrocchiani si confessano quotidianamente, così si preparano per la celebrazione della nascita di Gesù Cristo. Come negli anni precedenti la Comunità Cenacolo sta preparando la rappresentazione del Presepe Vivente nella parte posteriore della chiesa.

FONTE: © Informativni centar “Mir” Međugorje  www.medjugorje.hr.

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Martedì 8 dicembre nella parrocchia di Medjugorje è stata celebrata solennemente la Solennità dell’Immacolata Concezione della Beata Vergine Maria. Oltre a numerosi fedeli dalla Bosnia Erzegovina e dalla Croazia, è giunto in questo luogo di pellegrinaggio un grande numero di pellegrini stranieri, insolito per questo periodo dell’anno, dall’Italia, dall’Austria, dagli Stati Uniti d’America, dalla Spagna, dal Messico, dalla Francia, da Portorico, dalla Germania e da altre nazioni. Alla vigilia della Solennità si è tenuta anche una veglia di preghiera serale con l’Adorazione al Santissimo Sacramento dell’Altare, mentre nel corso della giornata nella Chiesa di San Giacomo sono state celebrate 9 Sante Messe: in croato, italiano, spagnolo, francese, tedesco ed inglese. Oltre ai pellegrini stranieri, questa volta sono giunti anche molti giornalisti e tre equipe televisive che hanno seguito il pellegrinaggio dei loro connazionali e gli eventi di Medjugorje.

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A Journey of Faith

24 novembre 2009

What is faith? How do you measure it? Is “seeing” believing? The answers for many can be found in the Marian Shrine of Medjugorje in Bosnia Herzegovina.

Eamonn Devlin

It is here that Mary, the Mother of God, is said to appear to a number of visionaries every day; a phenomenon which has been going on now for 28 years.

As remarkable and unbelievable as this may seem, the shrine has been host to more than 40 million pilgrims from most religious denominations from all over the world. An estimated 25,000 people from Ireland visit it every year.

I remember, as a teenager in June 1981, when it all started. Reports of six children seeing Mary were circulating and everybody was talking about it: they said a bright light illuminated the sky and there, floating above the hill before them, was the figure of a beautiful woman. This figure spoke to them saying she was Mary, the Mother of God.

This fantastical story caused an absolute frenzy around the corridors of my school: Mary had appeared to six children giving them 10 secrets which foretold ‘the end of the world’.

Panic was in the air; something mystical was happening and everyone wanted in on it.

The trips to Medjugorje started and before long busloads of my peers were setting off there, hoping to see something. Could they be blessed with a vision? Would some sort of miracle happen when they were there? Would the world really end? Well, nobody seemed to know. It was just a case of paying your money and going. I had no money, so I couldn’t go.

On their return I recall incredulous stories of students seeing the visionaries from afar through thousands of people; the sun spinning in the sky; miracle cures; even the devil himself appearing to some, dressed as a monk.

I was told that a mystery figure had followed a friend up Apparition Hill snarling, and that, upon closer inspection, it revealed itself as a dog-like creature with glowing, red eyes. I had nightmares after that!

Unlike the apparitions in Lourdes, Fatima and Knock where Mary only appeared for a short time, the visions in Medjugorje seem to have continued to the present day. They have endured a communist regime bitterly opposed to the Catholic Church, a bloody civil war were thousands were killed yet the village of Medjugorje remained unscathed, and ongoing scepticism from the Vatican which still refuses to authenticate the visionaries’ claims.

Pope Benedict has defrocked a priest, Fr Tomislaw Vlasic, on accusations of heresy, schism and sexual immorality. He was one of the original advisers to the children who claimed to have seen visions of the Virgin Mary.

So, when my co-director Gerard Stratton and I were researching a film about exorcism for our company Triplevision Productions and Medjugorje happened to be mentioned by a contributor, I was a little surprised. Could this place still be going? After all the world hadn’t, to the best of my knowledge, ended? I was naturally intrigued Now, 25 years on, the apparitions are still happening and I found it fascinating when I discovered that thousands of people from here have kept the faith and are still flocking to it on pilgrimages. Perhaps this was worthy of a documentary in its own right.

My first step in my research was to return to some of my former classmates from my school days — now 25 years older and hopefully wiser — and ask them about what they really thought.

One remembered very vividly a little pizza place on the side of the mountain that “made the best pizza he had ever tasted”. Another reminisced about “the craic and all the near romances with the girls from the other schools”.

It is fair to say that these were not really the enlightened comments I was hoping for on my mission to look at faith.

“What of the visions?” I asked? “What of the stories of conversions and miracles?”

“Yeah, we remember that too but it was all a bit of a laugh,” came a reply. Even the priests were talked about with a warm glow.

There was one person left to speak to from my school days — the friend who was said to have been followed up the mountain by the red-eyed devil dog. Surely he would have something to say of more substance. “I don’t talk about that anymore,” he said. Dead end there then.

Despite this, we headed off for Medjugorje with a camera and more than a burning curiosity. Something was inspiring the pilgrims to travel to this little place. Could going there ourselves provide us with the answers to our mission? Would we have a better understanding of faith?

At the International Airport we were welcomed by around 200 pilgrims from a Northern Ireland-run Medjugorje tour company which west Belfast man Reggie Donnelly helps organise.

Immediately the stories started: many of the pilgrims shared their own unique experiences about what had happened to them on previous visits; many were simply ill hoping for Our Lady to look kindly on them; many were hurt and wanting some answers. They all had something to tell us and they were all delighted that we were filming. According to some ‘we were sent by Our Lady to tell the world about Medjugorje and that it hadn’t gone away’.

We kept explaining to these believers that we were only recording a pilot film and that the documentary hadn’t even been commissioned. The truth, in fact, was that at this point BBC Northern Ireland knew nothing about it. We were just hoping there might be enough there to make a documentary they would be interested in.

This was our own leap of faith, in a way. We were making a short pilot in the hope of a commission and our future rested on it. The credit crunch was biting hard. While we were filming we were told that “Medjugorje would turn that hope into a reality and that, “we would get our film commissioned” and that “Our Lady would bless your film — just have faith”.

As it turned out, when we arrived home and pitched our idea to BBC Northern Ireland they liked it and commissioned our observational documentary, Pilgrims. And so, ironically, our journey into faith would begin.

I think that what we capture in this film is that the pilgrims who come here appear to get something out of their visit. They say they get the answers to their prayers. They may not always be positive answers, but they are answers nonetheless: If a loved one who is sick is not healed, then they believe that this is God’s will.

Medjugorje, somehow, seems to bring some people to that place: in their mind that enables them to accept the great tragedy and mystery of life. They leave saying they feel fulfilled and closer to their God. For some, I suppose, that is faith, blind though it seems.

The experience of making this documentary was an unforgettable experience. I was able to meet the visionaries who claim they saw Mary, the pilgrims who believe them and witness the effect Medjugorje seems to have on these people. Not everyone can get what they want out of life, but for some, could having hope or faith in something or someone maybe be all they need?

‘The news spread quickly we had been sent there by a higher force’

Gerard Stratton

From the outset this documentary was not intended to be investigative. That would have been the wrong approach. How could we prove or disprove the apparitions? That would be like trying to prove or disprove the existence of God, and neither the church nor science has been able to that. The most important part of the Medjugorje story is faith. And, for all who have faith, faith is simply faith! For them, it cannot be questioned.

I am not a regular church-goer but witnessing the faith and devotion of the Northern Ireland pilgrims on this journey gave me a great respect for those who give their lives over to God. There are those who go to Medjugorje in search of apparitions of Our Lady, of phenomena like the spinning sun and the weeping knee, and I have no issue with this if it helps them strengthen their faith.

However, it’s the people who go for their own personal reasons that I have most admiration. People like west Belfast man Emmanuel Strong whose mother died in Medjugorje whilst on a pilgrimage. He wanted to visit the place where his mother sadly passed away and takes great comfort in being there, feeling closer to her.

It was stories like these that appealed more to me than the mysticism that surrounds this beautiful part of the world. However, whilst filming in Medjugorje, it was only a matter of days before I felt drawn into the more mystical element. Rumours constantly circulate there about strange and unusual happenings: people taking pictures of the mountains and ghostly figures of a woman appearing in the background, people asking to look at our footage to see whether we had managed to capture anything special. From the outset we knew that making this documentary was certainly going to be interesting!

When we were making the film we wanted to meet Father Jozo Zovko, the priest who acted as one of the spiritual guardians of the six visionaries — a priest, who was portrayed by actor Martin Sheen in the Hollywood movie Gospa.

We asked a local fixer to set up an interview but she thought the chances were slim. To her amazement, however, Father Jozo agreed to be interviewed straight away. When we met him his first words to us were that he had been expecting us. Eamonn and I looked at each other a little bemused.

He went on to tell us that he had been told by Our Lady that we had been sent to him, by her, and that he should speak to us. News spread quickly to the pilgrims of our fortunate encounter and gossip circulated that we had been sent by a higher force.

We were also granted two rare interviews with Vicka Ivankovic, one of the few visionaries who continues to see the Blessed Virgin every day as she is awaiting to hear all 10 secrets to be imparted on to her. Putting all the hype to one side, one thing I am sure of is that Medjugorje is a very special place; a place that gives people peace of mind, a break from their hardships and a chance to pray for others’ intentions. Surely, a place that does this can only be a positive thing whether you believe in God or not.

Pilgrims, BBC One NI, tonight 9pm, produced by Eamonn Devlin and filmed by Gerard Stratton from Triplevision Productions

Tratto da BellFastTelegraph

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