The village of Medjugorje is a unique place with a special vibe, visited daily by people all over the world. Everywhere you turn, you can hear people speaking many different languages, from English, to Italian, Spanish, French, Romanian and others. Everybody comes here because they’ve heard of the healing and soothing energy of Medjugorje and feel drawn to a deeper connection with God and their peers.
Medjugorje is located in Bosnia-Herzegovina (part of former Yugoslavia), 25 km / 16 miles southwest of Mostar and it has about 5,000 inhabitants. The area has been inhabited by Croatians who were converted to Christianity about 1300 years ago.
A place for miracles
Life flowed as usual in the village until 24th June 1981 when six teenagers reported seeing a bright silhouette of Virgin Mary and baby Jesus close to the place called Podrobo (Apparition Hill). More and more people started to visit the place and it slowly became a major pilgrimage site, along with Lourdes in France, Fatima in Portugal or Guadalupe in Mexico.
The scenery is pretty austere, a rocky and hilly landscape that might lead you to disregard everything you’ve heard about this place: miracles taking places, people feeling the grace of God and an overall mysterious and unearthly feeling. But once you let go of your expectations, you will be quickly absorbed by the unique vibe of Medjugorje.
Here is what a typical pilgrimage here would entail:
Climbing on Krizevac
Krizevac (the Mountain of the Cross) is the highest mountain in the area, where the local parish built a 8.5 m / 28 ft cross in 1933, which marked the 1900th anniversary of Jesus’ passion and death on the Cross. The Medjugorje parish received a relic of the True Cross of Jesus from Rome and put it into this cross.
Villagers and worldwide pilgrims climb the highest golgotha in Bosnia and Herzegovina every day in order to recreate Christ’s suffering on the real Golgotha, in Jerusalem. Under the communist rule, though it was banned to hold outdoor religious meetings, the local authorities made an exception for September 14, each year, for the Feast of the Holy Cross celebration.
Climbing the Mountain of the Cross is one of the main parts of any pilgrimage to Medjugorje. It is a symbolic effort that helps people reconsider their connection with God and the things they need to change in their lives to become closer to Him. For me, this was a very powerful experience, as the physical effort makes it easier to mentally focus on the things that truly matter.
It was impressive for me to see old people and children climbing Krizevac Mountain barefoot. There is no well-defined path – the Stations of the Cross indicate the way up on the mountain and give people a chance to catch their breath or pray.
This is where the six teenagers reported seeing the bright silhouette of the Holy Mary back in 1981. The Apparition Hill is a short drive from the local church, and in spite of being a rocky hill, pilgrims climb it every day, trying to push themselves and overcome a difficult, yet extremely rewarding process.
What else can you visit?
You can also visit the Kravice waterfall, one of the biggest waterfalls in the country, which is located 19 km / 12 miles from Medjugorje. Its height is approx. 25 m / 22 ft and during summer, it’s a popular swimming and picnic area. Another possible short trip is the Siroki Brijeg Franciscan Monastery, located an hour away by car from Medjugorje.
A spiritual journey
Going on a pilgrimage is different from an actual trip, mainly because your focus will be on the inner explorations than on the external attractions. In Medjugorje, the core benefit of the trip is an inner transformation, a deep sense of community and friendship. And just like anywhere in the world, there is beauty everywhere – you just need to look and appreciate it when you find it.
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