by John Ochai
I made my third pilgrimage to Medjugorje this year from 6-13 May in the company of 30 other pilgrims and 2 priests one an Augustinian from Hammersmith London and the other a New Zealander living and working in Krakow. They acted as Spiritual Directors.
Briefly, Our Lady first appeared under the title of Queen of Peace to 6 children on the Feast of St John the Baptist on 24 June 1981. The children were Ivanka, Mirjana, Vicka, Ivan, Marija, and Jakov who was aged 10 and the youngest. Of the 6 only 3 now still receive daily apparitions at 5.40pm. They are Vicka, Ivan and Marija.
Medjugorje is a small village in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the former Republic of Yugoslavia. You can fly from most UK airports but easiest from London Heathrow to Split, Zagreb or Dubrovnik and from there take a coach ride to Medjugorje. It is roughly 6 hour trip from London.
My first pilgrimage was in 2001 and the second was in 2014. Going to Medjugorje is like going to school of Mary. It is common knowledge that one does not go there unless specifically invited by the Blessed Virgin Mary! You suddenly get this irresistible urge to go there which you cannot explain and that is how it has been for me on all three occasions.
Medjugorje parish church of St James (above) Three things happen when you get to Medjugorje. Firstly, you Encounter Jesus and his mother the Ever Blessed Virgin Mary up close and in a personal way. Secondly you experience profound Conversion and lastly you undergo personal Transformation. Testimonies abound of how priests and religious persons got their vocation after going to Medjugorje. Alcoholics and those with mental illness and many other problems have been cured without medical intervention just by going on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje. For the sceptics out there I say how do you explain these phenomena?
Medjugorje is the nearest thing to Heaven on earth. The scene is reminiscent of the passage in Rev 7:9-10 “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb”
Truly every race and country on earth is represented there at any one time. I was deeply touched to hear the rosary prayed in Arabic, Korean, Hindi, Chinese and many other languages in an atmosphere of profound peace and love.
Another thing that happens at Medjugorje is that you get to meet some of the visionaries and get first hand account of their encounter with the Mother of God and their glimpse of Heaven, Purgatory and Hell which will surely melt any hardened hearts.
The principal messages of Our Lady at Medjugorje are what are described as 5 stones:
- The Eucharist. Daily Mass if possible
- Monthly Confession
- Reading sacred Scripture
- The Rosary
- Prayer and Fasting
The pilgrimage programme includes daily English Mass, Rosary, International Mass and Exposition. There are visits to the Apparition Hill and the Way of the Cross up a steep and rugged hill called the Cross Mountain or Krizevac. There are opportunities to visit and venerate the incorrupt body of St Simeon in Zadar.
We had a con-celebrated Holy Mass at the church of St Simeon.
I would encourage everyone to go there if you get the calling. We were fortunate to be there when The Holy Father Pope Francis through the Papal Nuncio announced on Sunday, 12th May that parishes and dioceses world-wide are now permitted to organise official pilgrimages to Medjugorje. The announcement came at the end of the English Mass. The church erupted with shouts of joy and tears can be seen streaming down the faces of most of the congregation. With that announcement no one can now have an excuse not to go there.
For latest information and all you need to know about Medjugorje you can visit or watch MaryTV which is free or alternatively you can contact them by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wishing you God’s blessing and the Motherly Blessing of the Blessed Virgin