Monday, October 18, 2010

Our Lady of Medjugorje

    Five months before Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence from Yugoslavia (Dec. 1991), I met a young guy from Sarajevo, who was in his twenties like me, on a train to Salerno, Italy.  He noticed I was American by my sneakers (which I tossed away that afternoon and replaced with Italian leather sandals for the duration of my trip) and said he was curious to know how I felt about the war that was going in Yugoslavia.
  He and his family had escaped from the country and were now trying to set up a home in Salerno, where his mother grew up.
  "All I know about Yugoslavia is a place called Medjugorje," I said slightly embarrassed. "That people have seen a remarkable light or something like it that there has to do with the Virgin Mary. My mom's friend, Jackie, went there and the metal on her rosary beads turned to gold."
  Since I had just had a life-altering experience in Assisi, Italy (birthplace of  St. Francis) a few days earlier, I was eager to know how the young man felt about God with his country being torn to pieces as we spoke.
  He said he didn't know what to believe and advised to me to stay away from Yugoslavia whether the Virgin Mary appeared there or not. I can still remember his fearful eyes and skinny body. He's the only person, I've ever met from Sarajevo.
  Still, I was fascinated by the story. On June 24, 1981, the apparitions began. Six children claim to have seen the Blessed Virgin Mary in Medjugorje (which was then part of socialist Yugoslavia). Maria Lunetti said she saw it every 25th day of the month and Mirjana Soldo on the 2nd day of the month, respectively.
  Since that time, 30 million people have visited the site where the sun spins around turning amazing colors with hearts and crosses whizzing by. Some people have gone blind from it; others have had miracles happen to them.
   On June 4, 2008, Pope Benedict blessed a statue of Our Lady of Medjugorje in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. Even though there are still many skeptics, on March 17, 2010 the Vatican announced it would begin a formal investigation of the apparitions appearing at Medjugorje.

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