About Medjugorje

Medjugorje is a small village in western Bosnia and Herzegovina, approximately fifteen miles southwest of Mostar, near the border of Croatia. Beginning on June 24, 1981, six Catholic children (now adults) reported receiving visions and messages from the Blessed Virgin Mary. It has since become a popular site of Christian pilgrimage, with an estimated one million pilgrims annually, surmounting to about thirty million in total. The name Medjugorje means "an area between mountains". The visionaries have related that God has sent our Holy Mother during a period of Grace to affirm the existence of God and to lead people back to Him.


Shortly after the first apparitions on Crnica hill (Apparition Hill) in the Bijakovici hamlet, confrontations emerged with the Yugoslav state authorities. Donations from pilgrims were confiscated by the Yugoslav police and access to Apparition Hill became restricted. By October of 1981, the Pastor of the town (Father Jozo Zovko) was sentenced to three and a half years in prison (including forced labor) for allegedly orchestrating a subversive national plot. After several appeals were made for his release, the Yugoslav Federal Court in Belgrade reduced his sentence to one and a half years. He was released from prison in 1983. Just previous to the collapse of Yugoslavia, the state backed off restricting pilgrims.


The visionaries continued recording monthly messages from Mary in which She asks that we continually meditate, read and study (1). As people have deviated from God and family, these messages seem to be gentle steps away from immorality towards Piety. Through these messages, our Holy Mother leads us back to Daily Prayer (particularly the Rosary), Confession, Fasting, Holy Communion and Scripture.

Throughout the Bosnian War, Medugorje fell under of the jurisdiction of the Croatian Defense Council. It became part of the internationally unrecognized Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia in 1993. According to the 1995 Dayton Agreement, Medugorje was incorporated into the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, populated mostly by Bosnians and Croats. The village eventually became the starting point of ethnic cleansing by Croatian Defense Council in 1992. This led to the complete destruction of the Serbian Orthodox Zitomislic Monastery. The region suffered heavy damage when the militia of a local weapons dealer utilized the property of the Franciscan order in Bijakovici below the Apparition Hill as a weapons testing ground for grenade launchers during the war years. At the climax of conflict Bishop Ratko Peric was kidnapped by Croatian militiamen on April 2, 1995, beaten, and taken to a chapel run by one of the Franciscans associated with Medugorje and held hostage for ten hours. The United Nations Protection Force and the mayor of Mostar eventually secured his release.

Twelve miles to the northeast, the Mostar International Airport reopened for civil aviation in 1998 after being closed for seven years. After the Bosnian War, the road network was expanded and the village of Surmanci in the lower Neretva valley gained a train station on the route from Ploce to Sarajevo. Despite the new peaceful atmosphere, some violent demonstrations took place on April 6, 2001 after the NATO-led Stabilization Force closed and searched the local branches of the Herzegovina Bank, in suspicion of criminal activity. Some of the banks transaction included international donations intended for Medugorje.

A general tranquility came to the area after the Bosnian War, as the United Nations stationed peace keeping troops in western Herzegovina. There were several failed attempts by a local politician Ante Jelavic to create a Croatian entity. However, Medugorje continued to remain part of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The village and its surroundings developed economically subsequent to the war. Particularly owing to the Marian Apparitions, over a thousand hotels and hostels were established to accommodate religious tourism. With approximately one million visitors annually, the Medjugorje comprises the most overnight stays in Bosnia-Herzegovina.