Rain, shine, war, peace, winter, summer . . . they come! Weeping, on their knees, they come believing Medugorje Mary is within hearing of their requests, within sight of their contrition.
In the midst of all this faith, it matters little what I might think.
There is reason to believe that the young people who reported seeing the vision fabricated the whole story and left themselves no clear exit when their report flew out of their control.
The local bishop, who should have been thrilled with such a sighting, refused to believe the reports. There are always at least two sides to every story and he must have had his reasons.
Here's what I know:
Whether Mary appeared or not, the real miracle is the remarkable change in the town itself.
We arrived in town a little after nine on a chilly, very breezy Sunday morning. You wouldn't expect too many people at any tourist site no matter how holy on such a morning, but as I made my rounds of the various venues, the people began pouring out of their hotels, all bundled up and off in search of a special blessing.
A complete economy has developed based on Medugorje Mary.
Hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops, tour guides, real estate companies, and transportation options line the streets. One bus company, the Paddy Tours, offers package deals for pilgrims coming from Ireland. They call themselves Medugorje Specialists. This economy is quite simple: Six people say they saw the Virgin. Without that sighting, the economy of the town plummets.
The picture at the top of the page was not staged. We found the Medugorje Mary plastic bag full of trash and the boxes from China on the sidewalk. They are indications of the crass commercial side of the vision. Not photographed, but well remembered are the bottles of Medugorje Mary wine I saw for sale in the restaurant.
No one is in a hurry to examine the vision too closely. Certainly not the townspeople who have seen their community flourish.
The national government has no objection to having hundreds of thousands visit this isolated mountain village every year- a village which would be otherwise lost in obscurity.
The church in Rome has never given the sighting its blessing, but in the midst of a resurgence of faith among the locals, it wouldn't be very good religious politics to take a totally dismissive view
I thought about all this over breakfast - 10 euros. I lit a candle - 1 euro. I said a prayer for the brother who had suggested we make this pilgrimage and for his wife, Jill - priceless.
What do you think? Check Medugorje Mary on the web.