Regarding her alleged visions, Vicka once stated:
“Before, I prayed from pure habit. Now I’ve turned completely to prayer. I commit my life completely to God. I feel sorry for those who do not believe in God, because Our Lady wants no one to be lost. We can help each other find the right way to God. It’s up to the people to obey the messages and be converted. Great things are happening here: Our Lady is among us. She wishes to attract everyone to Her Son. That’s the reason She has been coming so long and so often. Here, everyone feels the nearness and the love of God. As role model and example, Gospa (Mary) began, in January 1983, to tell me Her life story, which took over two years.”
Is the title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary by those who believe that she appeared in 1981 to six Herzegovinian children in Medjugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina (at the time in SFR Yugoslavia). There have also been continued reports of seeing the apparition and receiving messages from it during the years since. The visionaries often refer to the apparition as the “Gospa”, which is Croatian for “Lady”. On May 13, 2017, a Papal response came when Pope Francis declared that the original visions reported by the children are worth studying in more depth, while the subsequent continued visions over the years are, in his view, of dubious value.
On 24 June 1981, young Mirjana Dragićević and Ivanka Ivanković reported seeing an apparition of the Virgin Mary in a village in what is now in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The following day another vision was reported, this time also by four other young people:, Marija Pavlović Jakov Colo, Vicka Ivanković, and Ivan Dragićević.
The children claim that they saw an apparition on the hill Crnica (on the place called Podbrdo); the alleged apparition was a white form with a child in her arms. Surprised and scared, they did not approach. The next day at the same time four of the youths returned, and were later joined by the other two.
For several years the six visionaries reported seeing daily apparitions from the Virgin Mary. It has been reported that Our Lady of Medjugorje has been appearing daily to three of these visionaries ever since, some say that they have stopped having daily apparitions.
At the time of the first alleged apparition Vicka Ivanković was sixteen years old. She claims to have prayed with Our Lady and talked to her; she also claims to have been given nine “secrets”.
Her “prayer mission”, said to have been given by the Blessed Virgin Mary, is to pray for the sick. Vicka says that her daily apparitions have not yet stopped. Vicka claims to have received a biography of Mary’s life, contained in two hand written notebooks, which Vicka has said will be published when the Blessed Virgin Mary tells her to do so.
Vicka Ivanković continues to meet with pilgrims to Medjugorje, which she has done for over twenty one years. Vicka is often called “the smiling visionary” because she always has a smile filled with joy on her face.
In the nearly 33 years that she has purportedly been appearing to the six visionaries, they have been reporting receiving messages from the Virgin Mary asking for people to pray often, to fast, and to do penance.
Many phenomena have been reported at Medjugorje, such as the sun spinning, dancing in the sky, turning colours, or being surrounded by objects such as hearts or crosses. Many have been able to look at the sun during those times without any damage to their eyes. The tall cement cross erected on Mount Križevac (which means “Cross Mountain”) has reportedly disappeared and reappeared or else glowed as if lit with lights, although there is no electricity on the mountain. Not everyone reports seeing the same miracles at the same time. Numerous supposedly miraculous healings have also been documented.
Franciscan Fr. Janko Bubalo questioned the visionaries and asked them to describe Mary’s appearance. They claim that Our Lady appears to be 18 to 20 years old, slender and around 165 centimetres (5 ft 5 in) tall. Her face is long and oval. She has black hair. Her eyes are blue with delicate eyelashes and thin black eyebrows. She has a nice, little nose and rosy cheeks. She has beautiful reddish thin lips and her smile is more like some indescribable gentleness. It’s visible as if somehow under her skin.
Her simple dress is bluish-grey and falls freely all the way down to the little whitish cloud on which she is standing. Her veil is pure white and covers her head and shoulders. It also reaches down to the little cloud. She has a crown of twelve golden stars on her head.
Finally he asked, “Is Our Lady really beautiful, as you have said?” Their answer was, “Well, really we haven’t told you anything about that. Her beauty cannot be described. It is not our kind of beauty. It is something ethereal, something heavenly, something that we’ll only see in Paradise and then only to a certain degree.” Visionary Mirjana, in her autobiography, says that when they asked Gospa, “How is it possible that you are so beautiful?” Our Lady gently smiled. “I am beautiful because I love,” she said. “If you want to be beautiful, then love.”
As is typical for all claims of private revelation the Catholic Church follows a standard criterion for evaluating apparitions. There are two possible judgments: constat de supernaturalitate (“It is confirmed to be of supernatural origin”) and non constat… (“It is not confirmed…”) The Catholic Church has made successive comments on the status of the Medjugorje apparitions. Each has declared non constat; that is, it cannot confirm the supernatural nature of the apparitions. The Vatican commission set up to study Medjugorje concluded on 18 January 2014. On 7 May 2015, Pope Francis announced the results would come soon. On 11 June 2015, the Vatican’s chief spokesman communicated that no decision is expected until the fall of 2015. As of the fall of 2016, no decision has been released.
On May 13, 2017, a Papal response came when Pope Francis was asked by journalists about the alleged apparitions. The Pope stated “The first apparitions, which were to children, the report more or less says that these need to continue being studied.” He then went on to say “[as for] presumed current apparitions, the report has its doubts. I personally am more suspicious, I prefer the Madonna as Mother, our Mother, and not a woman who’s the head of an office, who every day sends a message at a certain hour. This is not the Mother of Jesus. And these presumed apparitions don’t have a lot of value.” In addition, four days later the commission on Medjugorje established in 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI and chaired by Cardinal Camillo Ruini voted thirteen to one to confirm the supernatural origin of the first seven occurrences of the apparition.
However, the commission report itself is not a decision. The final decision will be made by the Pope after Polish Archbishop Henryk Hoser has completed his examination. He has been given a “special mission of the Holy See” to “acquire more in-depth knowledge of the pastoral situation “In Medjugorje, and “above all, the needs of the faithful who come to pilgrimage” to “suggest any pastoral initiatives for the future.” Archbishop Henryk is expected to give the Pope his report sometime in the summer of 2017, and the Pope may possibly make a final decision on Medjugorje by the end of 2017.
On May 6, 1982 the apparition ordered the visionaries to disobey the first commission’s request to “write on a piece of paper the date of the great sign, describe it, seal it, and put it in the archives.” Immaculate Mary, who cannot cooperate in a person’s sin by ordering the person to sin, would not order the visionaries to commit the sin of disobedience; so, according to the negative criteria of Normae Congregationis, this is grounds for the apparition not being Mary.
Critics consider the apparitions to be a hoax, and have stated that the reports of mysterious lights on the hill could easily be explained by illusions produced by atmospheric conditions, or fires that were lit by local youths.
I acknowledge that the children’s initial encounters with the Virgin may well have been caused by personal factors. For example, Ivanka, who was the first to perceive a visitation, had just lost her natural mother. The perception of apparitional experiences spread rapidly among her intimate peer group… The region’s tension and anxiety likely exacerbated this contagion process and the need to believe among the youthful protagonists.
Skeptical investigator Joe Nickell has noted that there are a number of reasons for doubting the authenticity of the apparitions such as contradictions in the stories. For example, on the first sighting, the children claimed they had visited Podbrdo Hill to smoke. They later retracted this, claiming they had gone to the hill to pick flowers. According to Nickell there is also a problem of the “embarrassingly illiterate” nature of the messages.
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
To God be the Glory forever and ever.