Medjugorje, Bosnia & Herzegovina: Reported Apparitions of the Virgin Mary
About the apparitions:
The reported apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to a group of children in this tiny village in what was formerly Yugoslavia (now Bosnia & Herzegovina) has resulted in over 30 million pilgrims visiting this village since then.
On June 24, 1981 a group of children witnessed a beautiful lady appear to them on one of the hills surrounding the village. She did not speak, but the children were naturally shaken by the experience.
Going back on June 25th, they saw her again and this time she spoke, announcing herself as the “Queen of Peace“. Much turmoil ensued over the next few weeks and months as the Communist authorities tried to quell the reports, intimidating the local villagers by flying helicopters over the place known as “Apparition Hill”, attempting to kidnap the children, and eventually imprisoning the parish priest, Fr. Jozo Zovko (shown here speaking to a group of pilgrims in 1998).
Still, the apparitions continued daily, and finally, the authorities gave up. In addition, the local Bishop, who had originally spoken favorably of the reported apparitions now turned against the visionaries. All this makes for a interesting story. One book we recommend is “Spark from Heaven” by Mary Craig. Written in 1988, it gives an excellent historical backdrop to these events that is essential to understanding the various political and religious conflicts of this region that give added significance to the apparitions.
Although millions of pilgrims have come here, the village still retains a special peaceful atmosphere. It is a wonderful opportunity for spiritual growth and renewal. The reports of conversions and miracles have filled many books and websites.
We will not try to duplicate those efforts here, but do recommend several books that give an excellent overview of Medjugorje.
There has been some confusion over the years as to whether the apparitions have been approved by the Church, are Catholics allowed to visit there, etc.
Catholics are certainly allowed to visit here, as many millions have done. We should point out that it is a complex situation involving both politics and religion but the apparition site has not been disapproved. It is under investigation and Catholics are welcome to visit. The matter was taken out of the hands of the local Bishop and is now under the auspices of a special commission in Rome. As of May 31, 2018, Archbishop Henryk Hoser is in residence and, according to the Vatican, “the mission of the Apostolic Visitor has the aim of ensuring a stable and continuous accompaniment to the parish community of Medjugorje and to the faithful who go there as pilgrims, and whose needs require particular attention.”
Priests are not forbidden to go there and in fact are encouraged to accompany groups to provide spiritual guidance. Until 2019, official Church-sponsored pilgrimages were forbidden, since that would imply the apparitions were approved. Today, dioceses and other institutions can organize official pilgrimages. This ban was lifted and Church-sponsored pilgrimages are allowed, although official approval of the appartions has not been given yet.
One of the best ways to visit Medjugorje is with a group, where you usually have a priest and local guide with you.
But it is easy for independent travelers to spend time there as well. There is an English-language Mass in the Church daily and often times talks are scheduled by the visionaries with an English translator. There is an information center near the parish bookstore where the daily schedule is posted. In addition to talks by the visionaries there are often talks by guest speakers.
Lodging in Medjugorje range from simple pilgrim homes to hotels. We recommend staying at the home of one of the villagers. They offer very basic rooms (usually two beds and a private bath) and give you an opportunity to sample their lifestyle. And the home-cooked meals are fantastic!
There are literally dozens of websites devoted to Medjugorje, some reliable and some not. There are some people, for whatever reason, who are vehemently opposed to the reported apparitions despite the many conversions, miracles and other wonders reported here.
Since the apparitions have been on-going for over 30 years and the Church has not yet condemned them, neither will we.
There are some who say that apparitions over such an extended period of time cannot possibly be real, and yet the approved apparitions at Laus, France lasted 54 years!
We await the final decision which might be many years in the future. Meantime, if you do feel called to go, we suggest you go with an open mind and an open heart…..and judge for yourself. Many of those who have gone simply out of curiosity have returned with renewed faith and hope.
Click here for a brief history of the reported apparitions at Medjugorje.
Click here for the official Medjugorje website. Lots of information and is current (external link).
Click here for the Medjugorje Web, the oldest Medjugorje site on the internet (external link).
Traveling to Medjugorje:
To get there by air most people fly to Split or Dubrovnik, often via the capital city of Zagreb. From either city it is about a 3-hour drive to Medjugorje by bus.
If bus will not work for you, consider hiring a car and driver. Cost runs about 150-200 euros per car, not per person.
There are also some flights in to Sarajevo. Although nearby Mostar also has an airport, there are currently not very many flights to the city.
By sea, there are ferries from Italy. Most of these are overnight ferries to Split or Dubrovnik and make for a pleasant journey. There is no train service.
Address: Saint James Church, Međugorje 88267, Bosnia & Herzegovina
GPS coordinates: 43° 12′ 0.0000” N, 17° 40′ 59.9988” E