October 21, 1998




Our Holy Father Pope John Paul II again came among the Catholics of Croatian. It was his second pastoral visit in four years. The visit caused surprise to many. To others, indeed, it brought great rejoicing. Great words were expected. Many waited in suspense at what he would say. But what was awaited in suspense, in fact never took place. John Paul II did not resort to great and new words. What he said essentially is the word of Jesus: "You shall be my witnesses. . ." He thereby made use of the testimony of Cardinal Stepinac who gave his testimony for Jesus in a very meaningful period. What was most noticeable in the Pope's visit was his presence. Simply his presence. Like when you visit a sick person. You can not heal him, but you can be with him. Like when you come to someone mourning. You cannot comprehend the depth of his sorrow, you cannot take away the pain. But, it means a lot to be with him. Like when you come to an unhappy person. You cannot totally relieve his sadness. but you can be with him.

That is also something like with Our Lady's apparitions. Sometimes with suspense we await what might be new in the messages. But, Our Lady does not make use of great words, of anything unheard of and unknown. That's how it was in her last message. Her presence, even though she is no longer appearing to the visionary Jakov everyday, remains her greatest message. By that she renews what is the corner stone of Christian growth and authenticity - conversion of heart.

Fr. Ivan Landeka



The beginning of the month of October is marked in all of Croatia, as well as in Medjugorje, by the visit of Our Holy Father Pope John Paul II to Croatia. The Pope came to Croatia October 2nd and finished his visit October 4, 1998. The first day he met with young people in front of the Zagreb cathedral. The next day at Marija Bistrica he proclaimed the Cardinal Archbishop of Zagreb, Aloysius Stepinac, to be a Blessed. On the following day October 4th in Split, he presided at the Eucharistic celebration to mark the 1700th anniversary of that city which is considered the cradle of Christianity in these regions. Certainly, the central event was the proclamation of Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac as Blessed. Because of his fidelity to God and the Catholic Church he was unjustly condemned in a rigged communist court trial. He was imprisoned in the jails of the former Yugoslavia, was poisoned and in that way by martyrdom gave testimony of his fidelity to God and the Pope. Of how great importance the Pope's visit is to the Croatian people can be seen by the fact that in the course of two days about a million people form the population of this small country (4.5 million) met with the Holy Father. From Medjugorje about 3000 pilgrims went to meet the Pope in Split and interestingly half of that number were Medjugorje pilgrims from all continents who joined their pilgrimage to Medjugorje with meeting the Pope in Split. About their impressions everyone said the same thing: "Magnificent."

This is the second visit of the Pope to Croatia in four years. The first time was in September 1994 while Croatia was still bleeding with the wounds of war and suffering the terrible consequences of aggression. That first visit of the Pope was above all an invitation to the Croatian community of believers to gather strength to forgive the enemy and extend a hand of reconciliation, while this second visit was a sign of support to the Croatian people to persevere in the creation of peace and good. Let us recall on this occasion what Our Lady said in her message of August 25, 1994, that is, right before the arrival of the Pope to Croatia:

"Dear children! Today I am united with you in prayer in a special way, praying for the gift of the presence of my most beloved son in your home country. Pray, little children, for the health of my most beloved son, who suffers, and whom I have chosen for these times. I pray and intercede before my Son, Jesus, so that the dream that your fathers had may be fulfilled. Pray, little children, in a special way, because Satan is strong and wants to destroy hope in your heart. I bless you. Thank you for having responded to my call."


The feast of St. Francis was celebrated October 4th in the whole Catholic world, but that feast day is especially celebrated in Franciscan communities. So it was also in Medjugorje. On October 3rd, the day of the passing away of St. Francis, a solemn evening mass was celebrated at which a group of ten young people from the parish of Medjugorje were received into FRAMA (Franciscan Youth) and twenty young people who were already members of FRAMA made their first promises. The church was decorated in a special way with flowers and candles for that occasion but the special adornment were the young people who loved St. Francis the most of all creatures. The Franciscan friars and sisters with the members of FRAMA processed with singing through the church yard and returned before the altar where the ritual of the Transitus of St. Francis was observed.


People of all colors and tongues visit Medjugorje. But, sometimes even in that diversity some groups stand out because of their very special unusualness. So it was also in the first half of October when a group of native Australian Aboriginals, and a group of native Indians from a Canadian reservation visited Medjugorje. Although this is not the first time that Indians from Canada have come on pilgrimage to Medjugorje, still every time they come it is for us something new and something special. During the course of their two week stay they especially made our children happy. In front of the parish church of Medjugorje, in their traditional costumes, they enthused the assembled children and pilgrims with their characteristic songs and dance. A lot of children then also had their dreams come true: this time they were so close to those who till then they had only seen in movies.


Some pilgrims from Kazakhstan who came on pilgrimage to Medjugorje, inspired by what they experienced under the cross on Krizevac, built a cross in Ozernoj in the district of Kodszetauskaj. The cross is identical to the one on the Medjugorje mountain, and the Polish Cardinal Glemp blessed it in the presence of Jan Pawel Lenge, the Bishop of Kazakhstan.

Also in Panama at the other end of the world, Medjugorje has left a strong trace: a church has been built identical to the parish church of Medjugorje. The church is located near the airport and since Panama is of interest to tourists, many come to visit that church because it reminds them of Medjugorje. Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar is regularly held in that church and the evening prayer program just like in Medjugorje. The church was blessed at the end of May 1997 and consecrated to the Mother of God.

Published by: INFORMATIVNI CENTAR MIR - Svetiste Kraljice mira ( Information Center MIR - Shrine of the Queen of Peace), 88266 Medjugorje, BiH, fax number: +387-88-651-444.
Director: fra Miljenko Stojic.
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Last Modified 10/21/98