A statue of the Most Holy Mother Mary at the author’s home alter in Juneau. (Photo by Gina Del Rosario)

A statue of the Most Holy Mother Mary at the author’s home alter in Juneau. (Photo by Gina Del Rosario)

Living and Growing: Medjugorje, shrine of the Queen of Peace

For over 42 years now, in the quiet rural village of Medjugorje in Bosnia, Hercegovina, our Most Holy Mother Mary has been appearing daily since June 24, 1981, originally to six youths, and later by inner locution to two more young girls. All of them are now adults, and three still see and communicate with our Most Holy Mother Mary daily.

Although the Catholic Church has not approved these apparitions yet, millions of pilgrims have visited and continue to visit Medjugorje since these apparitions began in 1981. Many healings and conversions have and continue to happen in Medjugorje. Messages for the world had been given and continue to be given through the visionaries.

In May 2019, Lyndon and I traveled to Medjugorje. After a very long journey by air and by land, we arrived at the village in the early afternoon. After checking in at the hotel we walked to St. James Church and attended Holy Mass. Saint James Church, with its twin towers, is a big church and yet it could no longer hold all the pilgrims who come to Medjugorje. An altar is built in an open area where Holy Masses are also celebrated in different languages every day.

Around the church’s courtyard, long lines of people wait for their turn for the Sacrament of Confession. On the door of each confessional, a sign is posted : English, Espanol, Deutsch, Portugues, Slovensky, Polski, Francais and many other languages, giving pilgrims a chance to confess in their preferred language. Even in open areas, I saw priests hearing confessions. In my entire life, I have not seen so many people wanting to go to confession. Medjugorje seems like the biggest confessional in the world!

Men, women, young and old, are praying everywhere, holding their rosaries, singing praising songs. Although my ears are not familiar with all the languages spoken around me, it is like the entire world has come to Medjugorje as on the day of Pentecost! Day and night people are praying! There was inner peace that entered my heart when we arrived in Medjugorje, an inner peace that I still carry in my heart to this day, which intensifies when I close my eyes and transport my mind and heart to Medjugorje again.

The spot where our Lady’s first apparitions on the hill took place is called Apparition Hill. A large wooden plain cross is placed halfway up the path marking the area where on the third day of the apparitions, our Most Holy Mother appeared to Marija Pavlovic, one of the visionaries, with a sad face, behind her was a large cross and motioning with her hands she said “Peace, peace, peace and only peace! Peace must reign between God and man and between men.” Climbing up that difficult, near-impossible path to the cross on Mount Krizevac, pilgrims pray the devotion of the Way of the Cross. On top of Mount Krizevac is a large concrete cross completed in March 1934 in commemoration of the 1900th anniversary of the Passion of Jesus. Engraved on the cross are the words “To Jesus Christ, Redeemer of the human race, as a sign of their faith, love, and hope, the pastor Bernadine Smoljan and the parish of Medjugorje erected this cross. From every evil deliver us, O Jesus.”

In Medjugorje, our Most Holy Mother Mary invites us to pray the rosary daily, fast on bread and water on Wednesdays and Fridays, attend Holy Mass, read the Bible daily and go to confession once a month. These are called the five stones of Medjugorje.

On June 25, 2023, our Holy Mother’s message for the world is “Dear children! The Most High permits me to be among you — to pray for you, to be a Mother to you and to be your refuge. Little children, I am calling you: return to God and to prayer and God will bless you abundantly. Thank you for having responded to my call.”

On July 25, 2023, Her message for the world is “Dear children! In this time of grace, in which the Most High sends me to you to love you and guide you on the way of conversion, offer your prayers and sacrifices for all those who are far away and have not come to know God’s love. You, little children, be witnesses of love and peace for all peaceless hearts. Thank you for having responded to my call.”

As the Queen of Peace, our Most Holy Mother came on a mission of peace with a message for the world “I have come to tell the world that God exists.”

At this time when many in this world are still searching for peace, I invite all of us to respond to Our Most Holy Mother’s call “to be witnesses of love and peace for all peaceless hearts.”

O Holy Mother Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee. Amen.

• Gina Del Rosario is a Roman Catholic who was born and raised in the Philippines, and is a parishioner at Saint Paul’s Catholic Church in Juneau.

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