Monday, October 11, 2010


This was to be a long day of travel. At six o'clock we left our Mostar apartment in the dark, dragging our suitcases which were as often as not caught in a pot hole.
When we arrived at the bus station, buses were already streaming in, unloading passengers, sorting luggage. It was more activity than I had seen at this early hour any where on our trip. All these buses were coming from Medugorje and almost every passenger had a bag of oranges. I never did understand about the oranges, but a little investigation solved the mystery of the early arrival. The Medugorje pilgrims were meeting an early train to Sarajevo and then to wherever home might be.

In a conversation with my brother about our upcoming trip, he asked if we planned to visit Medugorje. I confessed that I had no idea what he was talking about. Perhaps you don't either.
Here's the story: On June 24, 1981 two girls saw a vision of the Virgin Mary on the mountainside. They took some friends with them the next night and they saw her again. In all, six people have reported seeing Medugorje Mary, some of them repeatedly.

Over 30 million people have made the pilgrimage to Medugorje in the years since 1981. Although the Catholic Church has never "certified" the sightings, the true believers are not to be deterred. St. James' church, the existing unremarkable modern church of Medugorje, was simply not large enough to accommodate all those visitors. The answer was to create a huge outdoor auditorium that grows in size every year as the number of pilgrims increases.

In addition to the mountainside site which believers can visit, the outdoor facilities include a beautiful, larger than life Stations of the Cross, a lovely, secluded grove for meditation and prayer, and a giant statue of the Resurrected Savior. It would have taken hours to get close enough to the statue for a good picture with my small camera, but if you look closely at the small picture on the right, you will see a woman wiping the back of Christ's knee. The stone in that particular spot is always wet. Believers bring cloths to soak up the moisture to take home as spiritual souvenirs.
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