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New Europe

Day Twelve: Medugorje

Mirjana Dragicevic 
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In Međugorje I talk to Mirjana, one of the children who saw the Virgin Mary, and who still does.
Michael Palin - New EuropeIn the evening of 24 June 1981, on a rocky hillside above a village of some thousand people in a poor and predominantly Catholic region of Yugoslavia, six young boys and girls encountered a woman with a child in her arms. The next day, four of them, drawn back to the spot, saw the woman again and recognised her as the Virgin Mary. The visitations became a regular, almost daily event for some of the children. Since then, despite no-one else having seen them and even though the Pope has refused to endorse the apparition, twenty-five million pilgrims have visited Medugorje. What was a village has grown into a town of 5,000 inhabitants, with another 20,000 in the area employed in the pilgrimage business. And new hotels are still going up.

Such has been the impact on the local economy that a cynic might think there's a conspiracy to keep a good story going, and when we're suddenly told that one of the original visionaries is happy to meet and talk I wonder if we're using them or they're using us.

Mirjana, a teenager in 1981, is now married to a builder and has two daughters, both of whom are playing table-tennis in the driveway of a comfortable detached house. She is attractive and friendly and as we sit in her eminently sensible garden and she answers my questions eminently sensibly I feel my scepticism, if not destroyed, certainly neutralised. She describes the first vision she had when she was fourteen, apologising only for her English, which is excellent.

'I saw the woman in the grey, long dress and she was carrying the baby, like this, in the hand.'

The next day, accompanied by members of her family, who saw nothing, she once again found herself before the Virgin, who this time spoke to them.

'We come close to the Blessed Mary and she tells us "My dear children, you don't be afraid of me. I am Queen of Peace."'

I press on, with questions I never ever thought I'd hear myself asking.

'Do you still see the Blessed Mary?'

'Yes, every 18th of March. And she also said I will have the apparition every second day of each month.'
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  • Series: New Europe
  • Chapter: Day Twelve: Medugorje
  • Country/sea: Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Place: Međugorje
  • Book page no: 30

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