With these words, something very interesting began on June 1981. According to the testimony of six young people, the Blessed Virgin Mary began appearing to them with a Message for the World.
Since June 24, 1981 more than 40 million people of all religions and ethnic backgrounds have visited Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina. They travel to this tiny, remote village because they believe that since June 24, 1981 there have been apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary happening in and around St. James Church in Medjugorje.
I am a native Pittsburgher and I am one of those believers. I traveled to Medjugorje in June 1994 with my sister and my cousin for the first time, after my mom passed away, to thank the Blessed Mother for a miracle my family received from Her. The rosary beads that my mom prayed on everyday changed color. The silver crucifix and links changed to a rose gold color the night she was laid out at the funeral home. I was told by my Pastor, the Rev. Richard Ward at Sts. Simon and Jude parish “that it was a sign from the Blessed Virgin Mary telling my mom was okay.” That night at the funeral home I felt a peace, love and joy I had not known before, and it remains with me until this day.
Our Lady of Medjugorje, as the Pilgrims who travel to Medjugorje call the Blessed Mother, believe She has been sent by God as in the apparitions of the Blessed Mother in Lourdes and Fatima. She gives messages of Peace and Hope in Medjugorje according to the testimony of six young people from Bosnia-Herzegovina. The apparition identified Herself as the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace. She states She is bringing an urgent message for mankind to return to God. She said to the children, “I have come to tell the world that God exists. He is the fullness of life, and to enjoy the fullness and obtain peace, you must return to God.”
According to the Information Center at Medjugorje, the parish of Medjugorje is situated in Herzegovina, 2 km southwest of Mostar. Medjugorje signifies a region between two mountains where today about 5,000 inhabitants live. The pastoral care of the parish is confided to the priests of the Herzegovinian Franciscan Province of the Assumption of Mary. In historical documents the village was mentioned in 1599 for the first time. The present parish was founded in 1892, and dedicated to St. James the Apostle, protector of pilgrims.
Until June 24, 1981, Medjugorje lived like all other villages of the region: people worked on their land, planted tobacco and vineyards, produced wine and vegetables to acquire just enough for a modest life for their families.
In 1981, when the apparitions started, the life of the parish changed. Our Lady chose for her witnesses and co-workers not only the six visionaries, but also the entire parish and its pilgrims. This was expressly told in the following message: “I have chosen this parish in a special way and I wish to lead it.” (March 1, 1984)
On June 24, 1981, at about 6 pm, six young people – Ivanka Ivankovic, Mirjana Dragicevic, Vicka Ivankovic, Ivan Dragicevic, Ivan Ivankovic and Milka Pavlovic, saw on the hill called Crnica, several hundred meters above the place called Podbrdao, a young woman with a child in her arms, who gave them a sign with her hand to come nearer. Surprised and scared, they did not approach her.