May 24, 1995




Recently Bishop Georges Lagranges from the French city Gap visited in Medjugorje for a week. On the occasion of his visit with the Franciscans in Medjugorje he said: "I am from the city of Gap in France. My diocese borders with Italy. This is my first visit to Medjugorje and, to my knowledge, only two French bishops have so far visited Medjugorje."

When asked, "What does the fact that the apparitions are continuing this long mean to you and does it surprise you?" the bishop answered: "No, not in the least because that happened with us 300 years ago, namely, in my diocese. The Blessed Virgin appeared to a young girl who was only 16 years old and those apparitions lasted to the end of her life. She died at the age of 72. No one ever counted how many times she saw the Blessed Virgin! Our Lady began speaking to her by teaching her how to be a patient little shepherdess. She continued and ended with mystical visions of the crucified Christ and his sufferings in which the visionary herself participated. It is interesting to note that Our Lady lead the little girl to a place of abundant water. She told the girl that a house for priests had to be built there where they could receive pilgrims who would come to be reconciled with God in the sacrament of penance. That's how the Marian sanctuary of Our Lady of Laus began. I want to say that there exist today numerous conflicts between religions and nations and they have become especially prominent in these regions. I believe its exactly for that reason the Blessed Virgin chose Medjugorje as a place of complete and sincere reconciliation."


The 50th anniversary of the end of World War II was celebrated in the church of Medjugorje as in numerous other places in the world. While remembering all the calamities, in a special way we commemorated the afflictions suffered by the Hercegovina Franciscan province and the Mostar-Duvansko-Mrkinje Diocese, of which Medjugorje is a part.

At that time in the boundaries of this small diocese 17,000 Croatian Catholics lost their lives. Out of that great multitude we only recall here one Franciscan sister, 13 diocesan priests and seminarians and 66 Friars from the Hercegovina Franciscan province. In the small Croatian nation which at that time numbered about 4 million inhabitants more than 600 priests, and men and women religious were killed.

The majority of these were killed after the end of World War II. The great tragedy began May 15 on the field of Bleiburg in Austria. Croatian soldiers and civilians had retreated before the godless, unbridled communist partisans to whom Croatia had been handed over at the Yalta summit in 1943. The Croatians wanted to surrender to the allies and so escape the communist madness. When they arrived at the field in Bleiburg, the English, who welcomed them, promised them protection and help if they would surrender their weapons. They did that, but then the English handed them over to the partisans with full knowledge that they would be slaughtered. They were sent off by train to Slovenia where the partisans took charge. The tragedy began. Many were immediately killed. The others set out on a so-called Way of the Cross a 1000 kilometers long. It stretched from Slovenia to Macedonia. The killings continued all along the way. The latest research shows that about 300,000 Croatians were killed in these events.

We pray the Queen of Peace that nothing like that ever happens again in human history. She will secure that better than those who say they are taking care of world security. We can see what their security looks like in the case of ex-Yugoslavia and other regions of the world. They make every effort to protect certain self-interests of their own. Our Lady defends the rights and justice of every man and his freedom.


In the course of this terrible war in Bosnia-Hercegovina in which Medjugorje is situated, many Catholic parishes have been wiped off the face of the earth. Recently this is happening to the entire diocese of Banja Luka. Bishop Dr. Franjo Komarica is at the head of that diocese. He is, moreover, the President of the commission for the investigation of events in the parish of Medjugorje.

At the beginning of the war 80,000 Croatian Catholics lived in the diocese of Banja Luka. Today there are about 22,000 left even though there was no war ever waged in these regions. From the beginning the Serbs were in the majority and had all the power. Still that did not prevent them from throwing the majority of the Croatians out of their homes, nor from taking away their jobs and driving them out of those regions. In doing that more than 1000 were killed. They often used them as a live defense on the battlefield.

Something similar was done to the Moslems. Unfortunately, we do not at this moment have comprehensive data on that.

In the same neither were objects of Catholic faith or religious personnel respected. So far 40 churches have been destroyed, 17 of them totally and 23 partially. They have destroyed or damaged 24 parish houses or buildings. Four Catholic priests have been killed. In not one of these cases have the Serbian authorities done anything to discover those guilty or to protect innocent people or property. Here we are taking into consideration only the most recent events.

On May 7 the Franciscan monastery and church in Petricevac were totally demolished. Fr. Aloysius Atlija, an old, infirm and immobile priest died in the explosion and fire. They had planned to burn alive the friars and sisters in one section of the monastery. The guardian of the monastery, although seriously wounded, succeeded to escape through a window and notify the police who were not willing to do anything more than to transport them to Bishop Komarica. After this several other churches in the vicinity of Banja were damaged. On May 12 the parish church of Presna~e was mined and the priest Fr. Philip Lukenda and the catechist Sr. Cecilia Paula Grgi} were burned alive together in the parish hall. In his regular general audience on May 14 Pope John Paul II sharply condemned these crimes. He called on all Christians to pray for this martyred diocese saying, "Who can keep silent before such barbarianism!"

Sad to say, for the United Nations and the Security Council these crimes are not considered newsworthy. They don't even mention them.

We beseech all of you who love truth and justice to pray for this diocese and to do all in your power to help your brothers and sisters in Christ.

We have just been informed that, because of all these events, Bishop Komarica has begun a hunger strike.


At the beginning of the aggression against Croatia in 1991 Mr. Ivica Relkovi}, a pilgrim from Zagreb, decided to walk from Zagreb to Medjugorje with a desire in that way to pray for peace in his agonized homeland. On his way the Serbian army captured him and he spent 113 days in prison. After his release from prison he bravely continued his journey and arrived at his destination in Medjugorje. Recently he published a book on his experiences during that pilgrimage which, after several other Croatian cities, also received its promotion in Medjugorje. On that occasion the author said: "Without wishing to prejudice the final position of the Church, Medjugorje is, in fact, from its very beginning a call to genuine peace and a serious warning about the danger of Satan's counter-plan. The Medjugorje mystery is truly in terms of time a precursor to the tragedy of today, to the tragedy of our people and of other people in these regions. As such, Medjugorje can be a signal for us in these times. In conclusion, it has been and is an ongoing inspiration for numerous spiritual activities of various concrete attainments. After all, Gamaliel's theorem is valid for every spiritual mystery: if it is of man, it will fall; but if it is an outpouring from heaven, just by the irresistible endurance of little people it will live for the glory of God!"


At the invitation of pilgrims and friends of Medjugorje Fr. Slavko visited Vienna May 5-7. About 4,000 faithful took part in the prayer meeting at the Church of Mary Our Lady of Victory. Along with prayer and the celebration of Eucharist Fr. Slavko spoke on Our Lady's messages of peace directed to the world. On the last day May 7, an evening program of prayer as in Medjugorje was held in the Marian shrine "Maria Taferi", 130 kilometers from Vienna. After the prayer meeting Sr. Milena Tomas, an academic painter presently living and working in Medjugorje, exhibited 30 of her works with various motifs which sold out immediately to participants of the meeting. Sr. Milena briefly presented her nascent works as the fruit of prayer and glorifying God through Our Lady's messages. She expressed the desire that her works help people discover the beauty of creation.


The house of St. Joseph in Medjugorje, situated in the valley between the Hill of Apparition and Cross Mountain, is a spiritual center for the purpose of spiritual exercises for priests, men and women religious, youth, families and pilgrims. All is done is silence, prayer, sacrifice and most of all in the spiritof the message of peace Our Lady has directed to the world. Already the first experiences show that those burdened in heart and spirit who come to this house, leave full of peace and joy after a profound experience of grace and reconciliation with God and man in the sacraments. They are ready to walk through life with new strength and courage. Madame Marisa Baldessari directed the construction of the house of St. Joseph and is director of its activities.


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Last Modified 11/25/2002