BBC Documentary: “Pilgrims: Medjugorje” (Watch It Here)
BBC Documentary: Pilgrims
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF OUR LADY, THE QUEEN OF PEACE, AS SHE APPEARS IN MEDJUGORJE
BBC Documentary: “Pilgrims: Medjugorje” (Watch It Here)Dec 12
Međugorje or Medjugorje is a town located in western Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the Herzegovina region around 25 km southwest of Mostar and close to the border of Croatia. Since 1981, it has become a popular site of religious pilgrimage due to reports of apparitions of the Virgin Mary to six local Catholics. The messages reputed to Our Lady of Međugorje have a strong following among Catholics worldwide. Međugorje has become one of the most popular pilgrimage sites for Catholics (and people of other faiths) in the world, with thousands visiting each year. It has been estimated that 30 million pilgrims have come to Međugorje since the reputed apparitions began in 1981. Many have reported visual phenomena including the sun spinning in the sky or changing colors and figures such as hearts and crosses around the sun. Some visitors have suffered eye damage while seeking to experience such phenomena.
The name Međugorje literally means “an area between mountains”. At an altitude of 200 metres above sea level it has a mild Mediterranean climate. The town consists of an ethnically-homogeneous Croat population of over 4000. The Roman Catholic parish (local administrative and religious area) consists of five neighbouring villages, Međugorje, Bijakovići, Vionica, Miletina and Šurmanci.
In March 2010, the Holy See announced that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was forming an investigative commission, composed of bishops, theologians, and other experts, under the leadership of Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Pope’s former Vicar General for the Diocese of Rome.
— Source: Wikipedia
BBC Documentary: Pilgrims
Every year around 25,000 people from Northern Ireland travel to the unlikely destination of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the small town of Medjugorje.
But sun, sand and silly souvenirs are not high on the list of priorities for these holiday makers, rather they are searching for spiritual enlightenment; for a vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and for cures for everything from addiction and loneliness to cancer.
Pilgrims looks into these issues of faith and spirituality as it follows a group of pilgrims from Northern Ireland as they make their way to the world-renowned shrine in the small town of Medjugorje.
While Mary is reported to have appeared for a short time in Lourdes in France, Fatima in Portugal and Knock in Ireland, it is said that she appears on a daily basis in the town of Medjugorje.
‘Our Lady of Medjugorje’ was first reported to have appeared on June 24, 1981 to six Herzegovinian Croat children, who claim to have since experienced daily visions. It is said that the apparition told the children that she would impart 10 secrets onto each of them.
Three of the visionaries have now claimed to have received their 10 secrets and the visions have reduced to once a year. The remaining three visionaries say they have yet to receive their final secret and their visions continue to appear every day.
One of these visionaries, and perhaps the best known, is Vicka Ivankovic. Vicka was the eldest of the children to have first experienced the vision back in 1981. She was 16 at the time, and everyday she continues to receive messages and pass them on to the pilgrims who gather at her doorstep.
But while many believers flock to Medjugorje in the hope of witnessing an apparition or being touched in someway by the divine, others are not so convinced by the claims of the six visionaries.
The Catholic Church has never officially recognised Medjugorje as a site of true apparitions and in their early days of their sightings, the visionaries were even chased and arrested by militia in an effort to make them retract their claims. Each of them, however, has continued to stick to their story.
Scientific tests on the visionaries, commissioned by the Franciscans to examine the validity of their claims, have only indicated the six of them completely believe what they say they witnessed.
This documentary features a rare interview with Vicka and with Father Jozo Zovko, the priest who took the children under his wing despite how the Catholic Church or Communist regime felt about their claims.
It also meets the people from Northern Ireland for whom Medjugorje has had a profound impact on their lives.
Reggie Donnelly from Belfast has been organising trips to Medjugorje since the late 1980s and says his visits have strengthened his faith. Éadaoin Mac Rory, a mother of six from Ballymena believes her prayers were answered there.
Belfast man Emmanuel Strong now visits Medjugorje as often as possible since his mother died there on a pilgrimage. He says he’s thankful that she passed away there. David Parkes, from Dublin, had been suffering from Crohn’s Disease and says he was given two weeks to live but was cured on his visit to Medjugorje. Liam Stewart from Londonderry says he was cured of his addiction to drink and drugs by visiting the town. And Bernadette Mc-Donagh and Theresa McLaughlin from Bangor both claim to have seen an apparition of Mary on this latest visit.
But Pilgrims is not an investigation into the supernatural appearance; nor is it about investigating the claims of the visionaries or the people who claim to have had life changing experiences in Medjugorje.
Rather, this insightful documentary takes a non-judgmental look how far some people believe their faith can take them and how, regardless of the detractors around them, some people can be so devoted to what they believe is the divine that they truly believe it can help them in times of poor health, troubles and loneliness.
Pilgrims Producer Eamonn Devlin says: “Pilgrims is a film about faith; it is not a test of it. The people who set off on their journey to Medjugorje are searching for something, something that other aspects of life cannot give them. From the moment they arrive in the village you can see a change in them, a peace of mind; a happiness that was not present in Belfast International Airport. Perhaps they have found what they are searching for, or possibly a little bit nearer to finding it?
“Medjugorje is an experience way beyond comprehension: often magical and strangely fascinating it takes you to a place where, for those who believe, anything is possible. This for me is a good place. Whether Mary is appearing, the sick are being healed, the sun is dancing in the sky or you even believe in God is completely irrelevant. You take from Medjugorje what you want from it — even if that is to decide you don’t believe in it!”
Pilgrims is narrated by acclaimed actor Bernard Hill and co-directed by Eamonn Devlin and Gerard Stratton from Triplevision Productions for BBC Northern Ireland.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF OUR LADY, THE QUEEN OF PEACE, AS SHE APPEARS IN MEDJUGORJE
Medjugorje Parish Website
Over the years people questioned the visionaries of Medjugorje about Our Lady’s appearance, but the most successful inquirer by far was the author, Fr. Janko Bubalo, a Franciscan of the Hercegovinian province. He had followed the events associated with the apparitions from the beginning. For a number of years he heard confessions in Medjugorje and acquired an intimate knowledge of Medjugorje spirituality. One result of his interest is his book A Thousand Encounters with the Blessed Virgin Mary in Medjugorje (1985). It met with worldwide success and received a reward. In this book Vicka, the visionary, in answer to Fr. Bubalo’s questions, gives a detailed account of her encounters with Our Blessed Lady. It is true that Fr. Bubalo had interviews with the other visionaries, but in the end decided to publish only the conversations he had with Vicka, because it seemed to him that she answered his questions in the most comprehensive way. Besides, what the other visionaries had to say did not differ essentially from Vicka’s accounts.
Time has passed and attempts at portraying Our Lady as she appears at Medjugorje have multiplied. Many of these attempts diverged from the description given by the visionaries, so in order to prevent from further confusion, Fr. Bubalo, though now advanced in years (he was born in 1913), sent a questionnaire to all the visionaries in which he asked them to supply answers to a number of questions relating to Our Lady’s appearance. Five of the six visionaries responded to Fr. Bubalo appeal and signed their completed questionnaire forms at Humac in 1992. These five were Ivan Dragićević, Vicka Ivanković, Marija Pavlović, Ivanka Ivanković and Mirjana Dragićević. Because of circumstances, the sixth visionary, Jakov Čolo was unable to return his questionnaire form, but he agreed with what the other visionaries said, and had nothing to add to their accounts.
We now present the questions in full and the results of the visionaries’ brief answers.
1. As the first thing, tell me: how tall is the Madonna that you regularly see?
About 165 cm — Like me. (Vicka) [5 feet 5 inches]
2. Does she look rather “slender”, slim or . . .?
She looks rather slender.
3. About how many kilograms do you think she weighs?
About 60 kilograms (132 pounds).
4. About how old do you think she is?
From 18 to 20 years old.
5. When she is with the Child Jesus does she look older?
She looks as usual — she looks the same.
6. When Our Lady is with you is she always standing or…
7. On what is she standing?
On some little cloud.
8. What colour is that little cloud?
The cloud is a whitish color.
9. Have you ever seen her kneel?
Never! (Vicka, Ivan, Ivanka. . .)
10. Naturally your Madonna also has her own face. How does it look: round or rather long — oval?
It’s rather long — oval — normal.
11. What colour is her face?
Normal — rather light — rosy cheeks.
12. What colour is her brow?
Normal — mainly light like her face.
13. What kind of lips does Our Lady have — rather thick or thin?
Normal — beautiful — they are more thin.
14. What colour are they?
Reddish — natural colour.
15. Does Our Lady have any dimples, as we people usually have?
Ordinarily she doesn’t — perhaps a little, if she smiles. (Mirjana)
16. Is there some pleasant smile ordinarily noticeable on her countenance?
Maybe — more like some indescribable gentleness — there’s a smile visible as if somehow under her skin. (Vicka)
17. What is the colour of Our Lady’s eyes?
Her eyes are wonderful! Clearly blue. (all)
18. Are they rather big or . . .?
More normal — maybe a little bit bigger. (Marija)
19. How are her eyelashes?
Delicate — normal.
20. What colour are her eyelashes?
Normal — no special colour.
21. Are they thinner or . . .?
Ordinary — normal.
22. Of course, Our Lady also has a nose. What is it like: sharp or . . .?
A nice, little nose (Mirjana) — normal, harmonizing with her face. (Marija)
23. And Our Lady’s eyebrows?
Her eyebrows are thin — normal — more of a black colour.
24. How is your Madonna dressed?
She is clothed in a simple woman’s dress.
25. What colour is her dress?
Her dress is grey — maybe a little bluish-grey. (Mirjana)
26. Is the dress tight-fitting or does it fall freely?
It falls freely.
27. How far down does her dress reach?
All the way down to the little cloud on which she’s standing — it blends into the cloud.
28. How far up around the neck?
Normally — up to the beginning of her neck.
29. Is a part of Our Lady’s neck visible?
Her neck is visible, but nothing of her bosom is visible.
30. How far do her sleeves reach?
Up to her palms.
31. Is Our Lady’s dress hemmed with anything?
No, not with anything.
32. Is there anything pulled in or tied around Our Lady’s waist?
No, there’s nothing.
33. On the body of the Madonna that you see, is her femininity noticeable?
Of course it’s noticeable! But nothing specially. (Vicka)
34. Is there anything else on Our Lady besides this dress described?
She has a veil on her head.
35. What colour is that veil?
The veil is a white colour.
36. Pure white or . . .?
37. How much of her does the veil cover?
It covers her head, shoulders and complete body from the back and from the sides.
38. How far down does it reach?
It reaches down to the little cloud, also like her dress.
39. How far does it cover in front?
It covers from the back and from the sides.
40. Does the veil look firmer, thicker than Our Lady’s dress?
No it doesn’t — it’s similar to the dress.
41. Is there any kind of jewellery on her?
There is no kind of jewellery.
42. Is the veil trimmed with anything at the ends?
Not with anything.
43. Does Our Lady have any kind of ornament at all?
She has no kind.
44. For example, on her head or around the head?
Yes — she has a crown of stars on her head.
45. Are there always stars around her head?
Ordinarily there are — there always are. (Vicka)
46. For example, when she appears with Jesus?
She’s the same way.
47. How many stars are there?
There are twelve of them.
48. What colour are they?
Golden — gold colour.
49. Are they in any way connected with each other?
They are connected with something — so that can stay up. (Vicka)
50. Is a little bit of Our Lady’s hair visible?
A little bit of her hair is visible.
51. Where do you see it?
A little above her forehead — from under the veil — from the left side.
52. What colour is it?
53. Is either of Our Lady’s ears ever visible?
No, they are never visible.
54. How is that?
Well, the veil covers her ears.
55. What is Our Lady usually looking at during the apparition?
Usually she is looking at us — sometimes at something else, at what she’s showing.
56. How does Our Lady hold her hands?
Her hands are free, relaxed, extended.
57. When does she hold her hands folded?
Almost never — maybe sometimes at the “Glory be”.
58. Does she ever move, gesture with her hands during the apparitions?
She does not gesture, except when she shows something.
59. Which way are her palms turned when her hands are extended?
Her palms are usually relaxed upwards — her fingers are relaxed in the same way.
60. Are her fingernails then also visible?
They are partially visible.
61. How are they — which colour are they?
Natural colour — clean-cut fingernails.
62. Have you ever seen Our Lady’s legs?
No — never — her dress always covers them.
63. Finally, is Our Lady really beautiful, as you have said?
Well, really we haven’t told you anything about that — her beauty cannot be described — it is not our kind of beauty — that is something ethereal — something heavenly — something that we’ll only see in Paradise — and then only to a certain degree.