In 1981 a miracle happened in small town in Bosnia-Herzegovina (then Yugoslavia). Six children, Ivanka Ivanković, Vicka Ivanković, Mirjana Dragičević, Marija Pavlović, Ivan Ivanković and, the youngest, Jakov Čolo, a lady in white appeared. At first frightened, they ran away only later to approach the woman who would become known as ‘Our Lady of Medjugorje’ or the Blessed Virgin Mary. This apparition of the Virgin Mary would go on to visit these children throughout their adult lives, visiting them at different times of the month in order to impart what is now known as the ‘Medjugorje messages’ which can be read on a variety of channels.
"I have come to tell the world that God exists...that peace is necessary for the salvation of the world." (First message from the Lady of Medjugorje)
Initially regarded with skepticism by the then socialist government, modern Medjugorje has become one of the top three Catholic pilgrimage destinations in the world, seeing approximately 1 million pilgrims each year and 30 million viewers since the apparitions began. Medjugorje receives the most visitors of anywhere in the Balkans, providing the city with a wealth of accommodation and tour options. Many Medjugorje hotels offer prayer groups, pilgrimage services and assistance with visiting local sites.
Perhaps the most visited site in Medjugorje is apparition hill, which, as the name sounds – was the place where the Lady of Medjugorje revealed herself. Today, not a time goes by, night or day, where pilgrims cannot be seen saying their rosaries or offering prayers to the statue of the Queen of Peace. Peace is the operative word here, as the location has since been consecrated as a place of quiet and contemplation. Many describe praying there as an escape from the tumult of every day life where they can ‘bask in the glory of our lady.’ Just southwest of the statue is the ‘Oasis of Peace’ where silence must be maintained at all times, except when speaking is allowed.
Just beyond Apparition Hill is the ‘Blue Cross’ where Medjugorje pilgrims used to meet in order to avoid being seen by then Socialist government that frowned upon the use of Medjogorje as a religious shrine. Nowadays, the Blue Cross is an important meeting place for prayer groups lead by Ivan himself.
For those wishing to explore the beautiful mountains around Medjugorje, the one hour ascent to Cross Mountain is a must for anyone looking for a good Medjugorje tour. The climb is for those in good physical condition, but there is no need to be a professional. All you need is a sturdy pair of walking shoes and water. Be prepared to pray during the ascent to the mountain, alongside the other climbers. At the top of the mountain you’ll find a massive cross, erected in 1933 to commemorate the crucifixion. It’s best to check Medjugore’s weather before making the climb, to ensure conditions aren’t too windy.
Finally, St James church in the main city of Medjugorje is the final stop on a Medjugorje pilgrimage. St. James church is the center of religious activity in Medjogorje and close to many Medjugorje hotels and Medjugorje tours. Started in 1934, this unusual two towered church has been preserved through a tumultuous history. Now it serves as a place for Medjugorje prayer groups and helps pilgrims on their journey to experience the grace of Our Lady of Medjugorje.