Comprehending Medjugorje : Original Documents And Conversations with Arnaud Dumouch

The Visionaries Then and Now

Reference (French Edition) :
Daria Klanac, Comprendre Medjugorje : Regard historique et théologique, avec la collaboration du théologien Arnaud Dumouch, Informativni centar Mir, Medjugorje, en coédition avec les Éditions Sakramento, Paris, 2012, 2e éd. (1re éd. 2008, ISBN 978-2-915380-19-4 & 978-9958-36017-6), chapitre iii, pages 23 à 29.
English Translation by Duško Čondić



The Visionaries Then and Now


Ivanka Elez (née Ivanković)

Ivanka was born in 1966 in the village of Bijakovići. She goes to school in Mostar where she attends mass every Sunday, prays regularly, and attends catechism class. Catechism classes are held in the Franciscan parish in Mostar. They view films from time to time, none of which depict apparitions. Ivanka comes to know of Lourdes only after she has seen the Gospa. At the start of the apparitions, Ivanka is in mourning over the death of her mother who died about one and a half months previously.

According to the narration by Ivanka, the Gospa appears each evening: “Reverend Father, as though I am with you—I’m standing there talking…I’m telling you that I saw her, believe me or not.” (28th of June, 1981, in the evening).

Ivanka is not sure as to why the Gospa is appearing precisely to her, but she is certain that she sees the Gospa. If it were the Devil, he would flee from prayer and holy water, Ivanka thinks.

On the 29th of June, 1981, the visionaries are taken to Mostar to the psychiatric clinic of Dr. Džudže. He threatens to put them in the insane asylum and with separation if they once more go to the hill top. Ivanka is in great fear of hospitals since that reminds her of her sick mother who was in that hospital prior to her death. Because of that fear, she promised Fatheir Zrinko Čuvalo that she would no longer go to the hill top. “However, when that time arrived, about 5:30 p.m., I had to go there. Something is pulling me there. I must go!” (30th of June, 1981).

Ivanka speaks simply, believably, and clearly. No one is able to confuse her. It is not important that she does not have answers to all the questions put to her, it is not important what someone might think of her: the fact that she sees the Gospa makes her happy and moves her to approach the sacraments.

Ivanka had daily apparitions until the 7th of May, 1985. Since then, the Gospa appears to her on the anniversary of the apparitions, namely, on the 25th of June, every year. Ivanka Ivanković Elez is the mother of three children. She lives in the village of Miletini, in the parish of Medjugorje. She and her husband have a family guesthouse were they receive pilgrims. She works unobtrusively as a housewife.

Mirjana Soldo (née Dragičević)

Mirjana was born in 1965. In 1981, she lived with her parents in Sarajevo. They are practicing Catholics. Mirjana is in the second year of secondary school, and is a good student. There are only four or five Catholics in her class. Sarajevo is a multi-ethnic community, and the majority of young people do not pray. At that time, the communist regime taught atheism in its schools. Those who believe are oftentimes exposed to mockery. Mirjana lives quietly and does not call attention to herself. She spends her summer vacations with her grandmother in Bijakovići, in the parish of Medjugorje.

The first day of the apparitions, Mirjana was in the company of Ivanka. Ivanka was the first to see the Gospa, while Mirjana, a city girl, does not believe until she herself sees: “What Gospa!” she exclaimed in disbelief. However, as soon as she fixed her gaze towards the hill, she, too, saw the Gospa and believed, as she was overtaken by powerful emotions.

At first, Mirjana is over sensitive to all that is said about the visionaries, either openly or behind their backs, especially the gossip that they were mental cases or that they were on drugs. They were most suspicious of her since she came from Sarajevo. In fact, even the Franciscans think she should be isolated since she may have introduced drugs to the group. In the meantime, deeply convinced that she had seen the Gospa, Mirjana starts to relax and it becomes possible for her to resist the false accusations.

Her parents, in the meantime, are concerned and fear for her. Did she lose her mind? They wish to take her back to Sarajevo, but she resists. Something irresistible binds her to Medjugorje.

The Franciscans questioned Mirjana more than any of the others, namely, a total of five times.

The daily apparitions ended for her on the 25th of December, 1982. On that occasion, the Gospa promised her that she would appear to her once a year on the 18th of March. That is Mirjana’s birthday.

Beginning in 1987, Mirjana prays with the Gospa on the second day of the month for all non-believers, that is, for those who still do not know the love of God.

Since her marriage, she lives in Bijakovići, in the parish of Medjugorje. She is the mother of two children. At times, she witnesses to the pilgrims.

Vicka Mijatović (née Ivanković)

Vicka is the oldest of the visionaries. She was born in 1964, and comes from a large family. As is the case with most fathers in the village at that time, her father also works in Germany. Vicka is in her first year at the Textile School in Mostar. The summer of 1981, she is in summer school taking mathematics. She, Mirjana, and Ivanka agreed to go for a walk on the afternoon of the feast of Saint John the Baptist. Vicka, however, was late for their walk. After her return from her exam in Mostar, she decided to take a break from the summer heat. A few hours later, she hastened to meet up with her friends. A great surprise awaits her. She, too, will step onto the stage of the unfolding events. After the initial shock and fear, Vicka becomes, and remains, a bold witness of that which she saw. Her energetic voice stands out in that group of children. Sure of herself, she will announce: “We know what we are talking about. We are surer than sure.” (The morning of the 30th of June, 1981.) The Gospa showers her care over Vicka, and both she and Vicka develop a longstanding friendship. Vicka joyfully bears the burden of many crosses and much sickness and calls for her to make sacrifices.

She asserts that even today, she continues to have daily apparitions. She is married and has two children. Vicks gladly speaks with pilgrims so as to spread the message of the Gospa to as many as possible.

Marija Lunetti (née Pavlović)

Marija was born in 1965. In 1981, Marija began her sixteenth year of life and attends the first year of secondary school in Mostar. Her goal is to become a barber. At the time, she had an extended course in some subject or other. Marija comes from a large and poor family. Her father and her older brothers work in Germany. Marija seldom misses Sunday Mass or catechetical instructions in Mostar. At times, she takes over the household duties for her mother. She is of the mind that a well done job that is offered to God is as good as prayer. She enjoys devotional reading matter.

During her summer school break, she often meets up with her friends Vicka, Ivanka, and Mirjana; however on the 24th of June, 1981, she did not accompany them in their stroll. Her sister Milka, a girl going to gather her sheep outside of the village, met up with Ivanka and Mirjana at a place known as Podbrdo. That day, her gaze will also set itself upon the shining manifestation on the hilltop and the image she saw, then, and then only, will remain forever imprinted in her memory. The next day, in place of Milka, her sister Marija joined the girls for their usual get-together. The first evening, it was difficult for Marija to believe that her sister and her girlfriends had seen the Gospa. Meanwhile, the second day, as soon as the Gospa appeared once again, and Vicka was the third to join them, she started to dart up the hill as though the wind was pushing her. Marija cannot express what she feels while looking at the Gospa. Words simply fail her. That which she sees, simply cannot be compared to anything on Earth.

The third day of apparitions, Marija underwent the apparition privately. Descending from the hill top, the Gospa appeared with an large cross behind her. The cross was grey in color, the same as the garment worn by the Virgin. At this time, the Gospa imparted to her the important message of peace and reconciliation.

Marija is married and is the mother of four boys. She lives in Italy, but frequently comes to Medjugorje. Wherever she might find herself, Marija prays with the pilgrims, or else, in prayer groups always for the intentions of the Gospa.

Ivan Dragičević

Born in 1985, he was sixteen at the time of the apparitions. That afternoon, the 24th of June, 1981, he went to pick apples. Afterwards, he met up with his friend Ivan Ivanković, and they played soccer. Upon his return, he encountered several young girls from the village who told him they had seen the Gospa. After he too had seen her, he was confused and frightened. He ran home. Meanwhile, throughout his sleepless night, he thought about the manifestation he had but briefly seen on mount Crnica.

Ivan is a shy young man. He does not speak much, and does not reveal much about himself. He expresses his feelings with difficulty. Conversation with him is often interrupted with periods of silence. He does not respond to all questions, but, without hesitation, he confirms what he had seen. The paucity of words on his part does not lessen the strength of his experience. Even though somewhat cautious by nature as well as shy, Ivan is firm and unshaken in his witness to what he had seen.

Prayer takes place every day in the Dragičević family. Since his encounter with the Gospa, Ivan is even more aware of his faith.

Ivan is filled with amazement at the beauty of the Gospa: “Boy!, a rosy-cheeked maiden like this—very fine...enough just to see her.” (The evening of the 28th of June, 1981).

He is married and the father of four children. He asserts that he continues to see the Gospa every day. Frightened and withdrawn at first, he gained confidence and sureness of self: he became a true ambassador of the Gospa worldwide. He is particularly engaged in the problems facing youth and, parallel to that, with the problems faced by families. Along with his prayer group, he continues to pray for the intentions of the Gospa. He lives in Medjugorje for six months of the year, and in Boston for the remaining six months.

Jakov Čolo

Born in 1971, he was ten years old at the time of the apparitions began, and lived with his mother. He had just completed the fourth grade of elementary school. Jakov is the youngest in the group of visionaries.

The first day of the apparitions, Jakov is not present at the site of the event. The next day he was with Marija, and along with her, he went with her when Vicka called her to go to the hilltop where the Gospa appeared. With unbelievable speed, Jakov ran up the hill through the jagged stones and thorny briars without so much as a single scratch. This would be for him a distinct sign.

Jakov is inordinately happy that he sees the Gospa: “And, now I repeat, I said: If I die right now I wouldn’t mind since I saw the Gospa.” (the 27th of June, 1981). Amazed at the beauty of the Virgin, he says: “How beautiful she is!” And about her voice: “As though she is singing when she speaks to us.”

Jakov has no doubt: he sees the Gospa. He is prepared to die to give witness to that fact: “Mama, I will go even if you kill me.” You can kill me, but I will go again.” (The 27th of June, 1891).

Jakov asserts that he had daily apparitions from the 25th of June, 1981, through the 12th of September, 1998. Since then, the Gospa appears to him on Christmas day every year. He is married and the father of three children. He lives in Bijakovići, in the parish of Medjugorje. Jakov cares for his young family, and asserts that one can consecrate one’s life to God even in the bond of marriage. From time to time, he meets with the pilgrims. “I least expected to see the Gospa,” he said; “…you could barely see me, but I saw her.”

He would later remark that the Gospa replaced both his mother and father who died while he was quite young.