Sunday, March 8, 2020

Medjugorje-A Call from the Divinity

The time spent at Mostar was a memorable one. While going around the town we were struck with a thought of visiting the holiest site Medjugorje which was a mere 25 km away. I asked our driver with all innocence if we could see the place, knowing well that it was not on the itinerary. He smiled and told us so. As we were about to start from Mostar after the visit he suddenly asked the remaining passengers if they would like to visit the place. Lo and behold the opinion swung in the favour of visiting the place. Imagine, seeing a place entailing additional detour of 50 km with no added cost! It was a call from divinity indeed.

Medjugorje in Bosnia and Herzegovina is close to the Croatian border and had shot into limelight in 1981 as a popular Catholic pilgrimage site. 
The layout of St James Church
A series of Apparitions (supernatural appearance of Virgin Mary to six children frequently and is continuing to happen to date) at the popular Our Lady of Medjugorje cathedral has made it a holy pilgrimage site amongst Roman Catholics after authorization from the Vatican in 2019. Those six children are now adults and still receive messages from Mother Mary. More than a million pilgrims visit the site annually now.
St James Church
The drive to the place was full of excitement, which took about 45 minutes through the countryside with hilly terrain. Medjugorje literally means ‘between the mountains’. The place is at an altitude of 200m above sea level. There is a meagre population of 2300 in this holy town. In the east of the town is a Serbian Orthodox monastery that has stood since 1566. The town has witnessed turbulence right from the medieval times to Ottoman empire, the second world war and most recently during 1992 Bosnian Croatian conflict. Only after series of apparitions, the place turned to penance, fasting, prayers and peace. The town and its environs boomed post-war. A huge infrastructure of hotels and hostels has mushroomed since then to cater to the needs of pilgrims.
A huge amphitheatre
The St James Church with twin towers is a structure where the idols of Mother Mary are installed. We were fortunate to witness a mass in progress, and singing of hymns. There is a huge square right behind the church where the stage is erected for huge gatherings. 
Paintings from the Bible
Also, a beautiful lawn with paintings from the Bible is lined up along the path leading to gardens. 
Statue of the Risen Christ
Besides this, the Statue of Risen  Christ is adjacent to the park. It is said that this was the place where the six children had seen the appearance of the Virgin Mary for the first time. It is said that the statue weeps from the knees from time to time and this can be felt by placing the hand on the right knee of the statue.

It was one of the most rewarding days of the trip where we saw so much on a single day. The driver of our station wagon handed us a golden replica of the Mother Mary of Medjugorje as a parting gift. It was a fitting finale to the trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina

PS- All pictures are mine