Leaving the airport
After arriving in Split, Croatia we begin the three hour bus ride to Medugorje.
We just returned from a week in Medjugorje. That is one very special place. Kate found a tour group from the U.S. who said that we could join them in Frankfurt. For a very reasonable price, we got a round trip flight to Split, Croatia, a three hour bus ride to Medjugorje in Bosnia & Herzegovina, a nice room and breakfast and dinner each day. The group was led by Steve Shawl of www.medjugorje.org, who has been conducting these tours to Medjugorje for the past 13 years. We were fortunate in that just as we were signing up to go, Steve had to raised the tour price but he said that since we had been emailing him back and forth about the trip he would give it to us for the original price. The other thing which was great about this group was that it was fairly small, only 16 people. Everyone in the group was great and we all became immediate friends. The house we all stayed at belonged to the older sister of one of the visionaries, Vitka. Neither Kate nor I could ever remember being in such a spirit filled town. Medjugorje is a small town
First View of the Adriatic
The Adriatic coast is beautiful and the Adriatic is such a brillant blue.
and the church, St. James, took approximately 35 years to build. The architect was ridiculed and harassed about building such a large church for such a small town. The architect said that he was told by the Blessed Virgin to build a large church. The church was finished around 1969 and on June 24, 1981 the Blessed Virgin appeared to six children. The apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mother have been going on daily for the past 27 years. Whether or not you believe in the apparitions is your choice but there is something very special that has been going for all these years. The children, now adults, had been questioned time and time again by both the civil and church authorities. No amount of threats or cajoling could make them change what they saw and still see today. In these past 27 years over 30 million pilgrims have come to Medjugorje.
St. James is a large church which seats about 700 people. What we really found amazing was not only the number of people at each Mass but also the number of priests con-celebrating Mass. For every Mass held in the church, the church was filled to capacity,
There is something wrong here
The ride along the Adriatic coast was breathtaking some times more than we desired.
people were sitting on the floor before the sanctuary, sitting in the aisles, and outside the church on both sides were benches for the overflow crowd and these were almost always 75% full. At each Mass there was always a minimum 12 to 40 priests con-celebrating Mass. For the English Mass there was, no kidding, 30 to 40 priests and usually a similar number of priests at the 7 PM International Mass. There are 24 confessionals in a building adjacent to the church and at 6 PM daily confessions were heard. They had extra priests who sitting on folding chairs around the outside of the church. They had signs for the different languages the priests could speak. Every day at 6 PM there always was a huge number of people going to confession.
The house we stayed at is the home of the older sister of Vicka, one of the visionaries as they are called. The house was fairly close to Apparition Hill, which the Blessed Virgin first appeared in Medjugorje, but a good 30 minute walk to the church. Going back and forth about twice a day, I really got some good exercise. What was nice about the
Road View of the Adriatic
Although it is difficult to see from this angle, there is a sheer drop of a couple hundred feet and the bus spent a whole lot of time real close to the edge.
walk was that most of it took place through wine vineyards and open fields.
I have to admit I am not in the best of shape but the climb up Apparition Hill almost done me in. Fortunately, our group was saying the rosary and would stop at each of the beautiful bronze mysteries of the rosary which allowed me to catch up and somewhat catch my breath for the trip up the hill to the next mystery of the rosary. Once we got to the apparition site about three quarters of the way up this very rocky hill, the view was beautiful and the place very serene and peaceful. We came down a different way and said a different mystery of the rosary. I think going down was harder than going up but again the group was very supportive. What I could not understand was with 30 million people coming to Medjugorje and a good number of them have climbed that hill, why was that path, if you could call it that, so rocky, steep, and difficult to climb? There is another hill, actually a mountain, called Krizevac or Cross Mountain, which I understand makes the climb up Apparition
Took approximately 35 years to build and is filled beyond capacity at almost every Mass.
Hill somewhat of a cake walk. I passed on that trip although a couple of our group went up twice, once starting out at about 3:30 AM to watch the sun rise and pray. Someday we hope to return and I plan on climbing that mountain.
There are quite a few stories about Medjugorje and the apparitions. For a tiny town in a remote area of old Czechoslovakia, now Bosnia & Herzegovina, there is something very special happening there. I believe that if you come there with an open heart you too may experience it.
Until our next trip, Peace!
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