Medjugorje Pilgrimage 09/18/2010
(Click on thumbnails for full resolution photographs)
"If you knew how much I love you, you would cry"
Blessed Virgin Mary
Five Little Stones
Words from the Blessed Virgin Mary at Medjugorje. I give you the weapon against your Goliath, here are your little stones:
1. Pray the Rosary
3. Holy Bible
5. Monthly confession
Cross Mountain - “Krizevac” means “Mount of the Cross.” It is the highest mountain in the area. In 1933, the parish of St. James erected a large concrete cross to commemorate the 1900th Anniversary of Jesus’ passion and death on the cross. During construction of the 16 ton cross, the parishioners carried up all of the materials, cement, sand, water, tools, etc., in memory of Christ’s way of the cross. The cross was completed on March 15, 1934. The parish priest, Fr. Bernardin Smoljan, and the parishioners completed this 8.5 meter cross of reinforced concrete on March 15, 1934. The following words were engraved on the cross: "TO JESUS CHRIST, THE REDEEMER OF THE HUMAN RACE, AS A SIGN OF OUR FAITH, LOVE AND HOPE, IN MEMORY OF THE 1900th ANNIVERSARY OF THE PASSION OF JESUS." In the center of the cross, they placed a relic of the authentic Cross of Jesus, which Christians venerate as the cross on which Jesus was crucified. This relic was received as a gift from Rome, where the larger part of the authentic Cross is being kept in the Church of 'Santa Croce di Gerusalemme'. Ever since, it has become a custom to celebrate Holy Mass at its base on the first Sunday after September 8th, in honour of the Triumph of the Cross. Adapted from Follow me with your heart by Father Slavko Barbarić, R.I.P.
The Prayer Program of Medjugorje
Prayer program in the Shrine of Our Lady has developed step by step over the years. Right from the very first day of the apparitions of Our Lady, the children prayed the Creed, seven Our Fathers, seven Hail Marys and seven Glory Bes with Her. In Her message of March 15, 1984, Our Lady told us to constantly adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. In an unexpected apparition to Ivan on August 14,1984, Our Lady asked us to fast strictly on Wednesdays and Fridays and to pray at least the joyful, sorrowful and glorious mysteries of the Rosary every day. Speaking about the cross on Križevac, Our Lady explained that it was in God's plan at the time it was built and that we should kneel before it and pray (August 30, 1984.) As for the significance of the cross, Our Lady said on September 12, 1985, that we should pray before it because immense graces come from it. The daily evening program in the church takes place from 6 to 9 pm (6 pm: Rosary, 7 pm: Holy Mass, blessing of religious articles and the glorious mysteries of the Rosary). Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is held Wednesday and Saturday from 10 to 11 pm and on Thursday immediately after evening mass. Adoration and Veneration of the Cross take place in the church every Friday immediately after evening mass. During the winter season, the prayer program starts one hour earlier. Every Sunday at 4 pm, a Rosary for Peace is prayed on Apparition Hill and every Friday at 4 pm the Way of the Cross is prayed on Cross Mountain (during winter at 2pm respectively). The sacrament of reconciliation in various languages is available every day when the evening program starts and at previously arranged times. Mass in Croatian is celebrated Sunday and holy days of obligation at 8 am, 11 am and 7 pm (winter: 6 pm); on weekdays at 7:30 am and 7 pm (winter: 6 pm). On Saturday, Mass for Croatian pilgrims takes place at 1 pm in both winter and summer. Holy Masses in English take place from Monday to Saturday at 10:00 am, and on Sunday & holy days of obligation at noon (Medjugorje.net).
Participation in the Church Program
The Church of St. James is the center of prayer life for every parishioner and every pilgrim. The parishioners began building it in 1934, it was completed in 1969 and renovated in 1995/96. The stained glass windows of the church were made by Branimir Dorotić, a Croatian artist from Zagreb and were installed in 1987. The windows on the right depict 14 scenes from the life of Our Lady while those on the left portray scenes pertaining to the apparitions of Our Lady in Medjugorje. The Stations of the Cross in the church were made by the Italian artist Peppino Sacchi from Milan. The reliefs are hand-carved walnut and were blessed on February 23, 1996. Since the beginning of the apparitions of Our Lady s in Medjugorje, the following Franciscan priests have been parish priests at St. James:
1 Fr. Jozo Zovko: 1980-1982
2. Fr. Tomislav Pervan: 1982-1988
3. Fr. Leonardo Oreč: 1988-1991
4. Fr. Ivan Landeka: 1991- 2000
5. Fr. Ivan Sesar.2000-2001
6. Fr. Branko Radoš: since 2001 – 2006
7. Fr. Ivan Sesar 2006
While pilgrim groups have their own Mass celebrations in their respective languages each day before noon, with Adoration sometimes scheduled in the afternoon, everyone gathers together for the evening program. In direct response to Our Lady's requests, the evening program has evolved into its current three-hour format. Mary has called us to prepare ourselves for the celebration of Holy Mass. That is why the first part of the program is such a preparation. In this first part, the Joyful and Sorrowful Mysteries are prayed along with the Litany of Our Lady, the Invocation to the Holy Spirit and the singing of the Salve Regina. Through this time of prayer and song together, the heart is opened and being prepared for the meeting with the living Christ in the Holy Eucharist. Priests are generally available for Confession at this time and those waiting to confess pray together with the other faithful. During this time of preparation, the visionaries likewise prepare for the apparition of Our Lady, which takes place approximately 20 minutes prior to Mass. During the time of the apparition, the faithful gathered in the church remain in short silence, becoming conscious of Mary's presence. She comes at this time to lead us to Jesus, which is Her only desire and Her only assignment. The second part of the program is the celebration of Holy Mass. Mary desires for Holy Mass to be at the center of our prayers. Try to participate in it with your whole heart and soul.
The Gospel is read in the various languages of the pilgrims. As you wait for the proclamation of the Gospel in your language, pray that you may be able to truly hear the Word of God and pray for all those who are listening to that Word with you. The third part of the program consists of prayers after Mass: The Creed, seven Our Fathers, seven Hail Marys and seven Glory Bes. This traditional prayer is always prayed on our knees as a solemn promise to Our Lady for Her intentions. Then follow the blessing of religious articles, Prayers for Healing and the Glorious Mysteries. These Glorious Mysteries, prayed after Holy Mass, are also offered for Our Lady's intentions. Stay for these prayers. Our Lady desires for us to remain with Jesus, Who is truly with us. On Thursdays, after Holy Mass, in accordance with Our Lady's wishes, we remain in Adoration of Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. On Fridays, after the celebration of Holy Mass, we pray before the Holy Cross. Additionally, every Wednesday and Saturday, there is a special hour of Adoration, commencing one hour after the end of the evening program. After every Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and Veneration of the Cross, we pray for healing of the mind, soul and body. During your pilgrimage, you and your pilgrim group should try to participate in the evening program, to receive the Sacrament of Confession, to come to Adoration and Veneration and to pray on the Hill of Apparitions and on Mt. Križevac. Resolve to continue the prayer program that you learned in the school of Our Lady in your own parish and in your family. In the summertime, weather permitting and to accommodate the greater number of pilgrims, the evening program often takes place on the outside Altar behind the church. Please strive to maintain a spirit of prayer and silence during the entire evening program, as you would during Holy Mass inside the church.
Meeting The Hill of Apparitions (Podbrdo)
Prayer program - It all started on June 24,1981, when Ivanka Ivanković, Mirjana Dragičević, Ivan Dragičević, Ivan Ivanković, Milka Pavlović and Vicka Ivanković declared with deep conviction that they had seen Our Lady with the child Jesus on the Hill of Apparitions. The following day, June 25th, Milka Pavlović and Ivan Ivanković no longer saw Our Lady, but two other children, Marija Pavlović and Jakov Čolo, did see Her. On the third day, June 26th, after having appeared to all the children together on the Hill of Apparitions, Our Lady again appeared to Marija Pavlović. Our Lady stood in front of a large cross, pointed to it with Her hands and repeated with great sadness: "PEACE, PEACE, PEACE, AND ONLY PEACE! PEACE MUST BEGIN TO REIGN BETWEEN GOD AND MAN AND BETWEEN MEN". On that spot on the Hill of Apparitions, a large wooden cross was erected. From that day on, Our Lady continued to appear to the children every day wherever they were. Presently, Marija, Vicka and Ivan still have daily apparitions, whereas Mirjana, Ivanka and Jakov only see Her once a year. For you, dear pilgrim, as for all of us, a meeting with the Hill of Apparitions is a meeting with Mary. That is why, from the very beginning, it is important to ask the Lord with all your heart and soul to open your spiritual sight and hearing so that you may be able to listen to what She is saying and to experience Her presence. Begin to pray on the Hill of Apparitions, as the visionaries did. As you pray the Rosary on this hill, pause at every decade of each of the Mysteries in front of the relief that depicts a scene of the life of Jesus and Mary. To pray the Rosary means to be with Jesus and Mary. At each of the Mysteries, contemplate also on your own life. The Rosary consists of three parts, the Joyful, the Sorrowful and the Glorious Mysteries; each of these has five mysteries. Start to pray the Rosary by making the sign of the cross: In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Pray the Creed and, for the intention of the Holy Father, the Our Father and three Hail Marys (Faith, Hope and Love) and one Glory Be. Then begin with the Joyful Mysteries.
At The Apparition Site
This spot is marked by a large statue of Our Lady, a replica of the white statue in front of the Church. Consecrate yourself to the Immaculate Heart of Mary here, knowing that to consecrate yourself to Her, means to consciously accept Her as mother, to live Her messages and to surrender your entire life to Her.
The Wooden Cross
As you descend the Hill of Apparitions, you will come across a large wooden cross, erected on the place where Our Lady appeared Marija Pavlović on June 26,1981. It is here that She cried and called us to peace and reconciliation.
The Blue Cross (Plavi Kriz)
At another place of significance where Our Lady has appeared, a blue cross was erected and this site is now called the "Blue Cross". Here Our Lady appeared to Ivan while he was hiding from the police. Today, Our Lady still appears to Ivan here sometimes when he meets with his prayer group on Tuesdays and Fridays at this site. The cross is located at the foot of the Hill of Apparitions (have a look at the Interactive map). Adapted from Follow me with your heart by Father Slavko Barbarić, R.I.P
Communities In Medjugorje
In the parish of Medjugorje, in addition to the Franciscans, OFM, the School Sisters of the Franciscan Province of Herzegovina and the Community of the Franciscan Sisters, there are several spiritual communities from abroad which live and work here. These are the 'Cenacle Community' and the 'Oasis of Peace', both from Italy; the 'Beatitudes' from France; the 'Mothers' Village', a village for orphaned or needy children, for pregnant women who have been rejected by their families, with a health center for handicapped children and a dental practice.
“I am grateful to Our Lady of Medjugorje. I know that many people go there and are converted. I thank God for leading us during these times this way.”
U.S. Ambassador David Anderson
In 1986 the U.S. State Department became very interested in what they were hearing about Medjugorje. The U.S. Ambassador to Yugoslavia at that time, David Anderson, was told to send political officers to investigate the rumors of apparitions. Reporting back to Anderson the two political officers stated, “You’re not going to believe this, but there is something going on there.” (The State Dept. information are excerpts "Medjugorje Investigated," a book by Michael Kenneth Jones. For more information visit Michael’s website (MedjugorjeUSA.org).
Father Tomoslav Vlasic
Father Tomoslav sent a letter to Pope John Paul II on December 16, 1983, summarizing a conversation with Mirjana (one of the visionaries) on November 5, 1983, concerning messages she received in an apparition on December 25, 1982: The following is a summary of the substance of her account, without word-for-word quotations:
Mirjana said that before the visible sign is given to humanity, there will be three warnings to the world. The warnings will be in the form of events on earth. Mirjana will be a witness to them. Three days before one of the admonitions, Mirjana will notify a priest of her choice. The witness of Mirjana will be a confirmation of the apparitions and a stimulus for the conversion of the world. After the admonitions, the visible sign will appear on the site of the apparitions in Medjugorje for all the world to see. The sign will be given as a testimony to the apparitions and in order to call the people back to the faith. The ninth and tenth secrets are serious. They concern chastisement for the sins of the world. Punishment is inevitable, for we cannot expect the whole world to be converted. The punishment can be diminished by prayer and penance, but it cannot be eliminated. Mirjana says that one of the evils that threatened the world, the one contained in the seventh secret, has been averted, thanks to prayer and fasting. That is why the Blessed Virgin continues to encourage prayer and fasting: "You have forgotten that through prayer and fasting you can avert war and suspend the laws of nature." After the first admonition, the others will follow in a rather short time. Thus, people will have some time for conversion. That interval will be a period of grace and conversion. After the visible sign appears, those who are still alive will have little time for conversion. For that reason, the Blessed Virgin invites us to urgent conversion and reconciliation. The invitation to prayer and penance is meant to avert evil and war, but most of all to save souls (Call2Holiness.org/Afterwarning/Afterwarning.html).
Saint James Church in Medjugorje
The Walk Though the Vines to the Church. Because the village is so small, most people walk from their hotels, through the vineyards, past the homes of the visionnaries to the church. In the early years of the apparitions, when the communists were so involved in trying to stop the children, there were many apparitions that did take place in the fields and vineyards, as the visionaries had to hide from the authorities. Many people have experienced meeting the Blessed Mother in these fields. Following the Charter of Our Blessed Mother's Heavenly Messages, it is Her desire that the pilgrim walks these paths formed in the symbol of the Trinity She established by appearing on Apparition Mountain. From Apparition Mountain, to Cross Mountain, to St. James Church and back to Apparition Mountain again, a triangle is formed and the holiest way to get to these sites is by way of the trails.
In 1897, the parish church of St. James (coincidentally the patron saint of pilgrims) in Medjugorje was completed. Built on earthquake-prone ground, it soon began to sink and crack. A new church was built and consecrated on January 19, 1969. After the apparitions began in 1981, the church and the surrounding area were gradually developed and expanded. The remains of the old 1897 church are preserved in a park inside the traffic circle on the left side of the current shrine.
The Apostle St. James the Greater, of whom the church of St. James in Medjugorje was dedicated, is the Patron Saint of Pilgrims. This is just one of many acts of God’s providence that helps to reveal the larger picture behind the events of Medjugorje. When plans were made to build this church, several decades before the apparitions began, it was much smaller than what people see in the church of St. James. The foundation was laid the church was built, but then shortly afterwards the ground beneath it began to sink. They finally had to abandon ithe completed church a number of years later and choose a different site for the new church. Years passed, and though the five hamlets that make up the parish of Medjugorje, had not grown significantly, a much larger church was drawn up in the plans. No explanation was given as to why the church was built so big. But once the apparitions began, the church was filled to overflowing on a daily basis with pilgrims from around the world. It was then realized, by all, that God had inspired them to overbuild the church. There were many different locations of the apparitions during the years when they took place at St. James Church. The first apparitions in the church were actually in the sanctuary, right above the altar. For three years, the side room off the main sanctuary became a regular site for the apparitions, followed next by Fr. Slavko’s office and bedroom in the rectory, and later in the choir loft and one of the bell towers of St. James. Lastly, the apparitions took place in the Adoration Chapel behind the church. As each of the visionaries married, they began having the apparitions more often in their own homes. Marija built a private chapel next to her house and recently Ivan followed suit and built his own private chapel next to his home. This is where the daily apparitions occur when Marija and Ivan are in Medjugorje. Vicka has her apparitions in her home as well. Though, today Our Lady does not appear in St. James Church, Her presence will always be felt through the many apparitions that have taken place there over these many years.
The Statue of Mary in Saint James Church
The beauty of the statue is remarkable. Crown of Stars for Our Lady of Lourdes Statue in St. James Church in Medjugorje:
September 1, 2007 , Originally published July 2, 2005 (Testimony by Angel Maria Garcia Alvarez, architect designer)
Angel Maria Garcia Alvarez (from Madrid, Spain), architect designer of the new crown offered to St. James’ in Medjugorje at the occasion of the 24th anniversary of the apparitions (also designer of the magnificent Magna Monstrance offered to the Shrine in 2001) gave a testimony about how this project came about and how it was realised. The crown was blessed and the statue was officially crowned by Fr. Branko Radoš, pastor of Medjugorje, after the solemn evening Mass on June 25, 2005, the day of the 24th anniversary of Our Lady’s apparitions in Medjugorje, in the presence of two bishops: Mons. Geevarghese Mar Divannasios Ottathengil, catholic syro-malankara bishop of the diocese Bathery, Kerala (India), and Mons. Jerome Gapangwa Nteziryayo, retired bishop of Uvira (Congo). After having designed a magnificent Magna Monstrance for the Shrine, you have designed now a beautiful crown for Our Lady's statue, which is in the church. Why a crown for the statue? Where is the idea coming from?
Evening adoration with Magna Monstrance This is a beautiful story that starts with the Magna Monstrance, and in my understanding, the crown is the logical conclusion of it. The Magna Monstrance was dedicated to the memory of father Slavko Barbaric. It was commissioned in January 1st 2001, about a month after his death, and was the first of several works in which we have been involved, helping the parish to renovate the most important liturgical objects: those that are related to the Eucharist (chalices and patens, vestments for the priests, ciboria for communion, altar cross, candles for the altar). After all these commissions, came the crown for the statue. I like to imagine that Our Lady takes care that all things are prepared and beautiful for the liturgy of the Eucharist and the Adoration, and then the Lord Himself is happy to see His Mother crowned with a beautiful crown. The first time I heard about the idea to make a new crown was a comment from father Svetozar Kraljevic on the Feast of Saint Francis, 4th October 2003, after the mass, in front of the statue. I was there with my wife Amparo, when we brought a group of Spanish pilgrims to Medjugorje. Later I knew that Fr. Branko Rados, the pastor, was thinking about it since a long time ago. The commission was formally requested by the pastor the day before the Feast of the Immaculate Conception last year 7th December 2004. He wanted a nice and valuable crown for the statue, for the coming 24th Anniversary of the apparitions of 25th June 2005, in this year of the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception by Pope Pius IX in 1854.
Who is involved in this project? In which way? Statue of Our Lady of Lourdes at the St. James Church (detail) The people involved, besides the pastor father Branko and father Svetozar, were my wife Amparo, the countess Felicia Traun, 14 Spanish families or individual donors, the workshop who fabricated it, and me as the designer. At the beginning, there were no donors. The parish requested the crown like a typical commission to be paid by the parish to the workshop as usual. During the process of design someone came to me in Madrid because she was interested in giving some money for the parish. This person wished to donate half of it for the Mother’s Village, and the other half for the new crown. Then my wife and I both realized that we could find enough donors in Spain to pay for the whole crown and it would be a great honour for all of us. We asked the pastor if he would accept this donation, and he agreed. So, this crown is totally a gift from a few Spanish families and pilgrims to Our Lady and to Medjugorje. My contribution also involved the transportation: I transported the crown from Spain to Medjugorje in my own hands. Can you give us some technical details about the crown? The crown is similar to the old one, a typical 12-stars crown of a statue of the Immaculate Conception, but I tried to make it as beautiful, and valuable as possible within its simplicity. It is made totally in silver or gilded silver, and each star has a nice blue topaz. We did not wanted luxury, but majesty. For the final design, I studied crowns of Immaculate Conception from Spanish paintings and sculptures from the XIVth to the XXth centuries. I also spent a long time thinking on the stars of the crown. I wanted a star that looked really like a star. Totally by chance my wife and I visited last Christmas in Madrid, in a private house, a master piece Neapolitan XVIII century model of Belen representing with small figures the scene of the birth of Jesus (a very old tradition that started up Saint Francis in Italy). There, on top of the cave, over the figures of Jesus, Joseph and Mary, I saw a beautiful silver star guiding the Magi. It was the star I was looking for! I requested a copy of it. It is the star of the new crown of Medjugorje.
The rest is simple: I increased slightly the size of the ring of stars because the old crown was in my understanding too small for the statue. And I placed the stars in such a manner that they configure clearly the halo around the head of the statue because two points of each star touch the point of the following stars. Which is the spiritual meaning of this gift for your prayer group? As I said, this is a gift from a few Spanish families and friends. I believe there is something deep in it. The History of the Church tells that the Spanish people were the most constant defenders of this dogma, several centuries before it was proclaimed officially by the Church, and this faith was expressed also in the arts from the XIVth century onwards. So this gift recalls our spiritual memory. But more important than that, with this donation each family or individual donor has expressed a vow of fidelity to the Immaculate, as well as a heartfelt prayer for maternal protection, in the same way that any family or person of the entire world can do.
Outside Open Air Altar
This open air altar was built in 1989 at the back of St James’ Church to seat up to 5000 pilgrims for Mass with many times that figure standing for other celebrations such as concerts and Youth Festivals. During annual Anniversary Celebrations, there can be up to 200 priests celebrating Holy Mass, in many languages, with simultaneous translations in major languages.
People stand in lines up to 20 deep for hours waiting to meet a priest. Thanks to Our Lady’s apparitions, Medjugorje became a place of reconciliation, which is especially experienced in the sacrament of Holy Confession. Twenty-five confessionals, built in 1990 and restored in 2001, can be found near the church; it is there that the faithful have daily occasion to experience God’s forgiveness.
Statue of St. Leopold Bogdan Mandić
The bronze statue of St. Leopold Bogdan Mandić (the work of Carmelo Puzzolo from Italy), patron saint of confessors, canonised on October 16, 1983, was put up in 1998 in the proximity of the exterior confessionals.
Cardinal Dr. Franjo Kuharić
We bishops, after a three-year-long commission study accept Medjugorje as a holy place, as a shrine. This means that we have nothing against it if someone venerates the Mother of God in a manner also in agreement with the teaching and belief of the Church. Therefore, we are leaving that to further study. The Church does not hurry.”
His Eminence Cardinal Dr. Franjo Kuharić, Archbishop of Zagreb (Glas Koncila, August 15, 1993)