“Three more days!”

The end of the “apparitions” announced by the Lady of Medjugorje has raised one of the most, if not the most important objection that has hindered the recognition of their supernatural character.

According to the visionaries’ tape recorded declarations, the Gospa – the Croatian word meaning the Madonna or the Virgin Mary – announced, on June 30, 1981, that she would appear to them three more times. On July 3, ten days after the beginning of the happenings, the visionaries confirmed, before five adults, three of whom were priests, that their meetings with the Gospa were once and for all over.

Twenty-nine years later, in 2010, the daily encounters of some of the visionaries with the Gospa continue to attract millions of pilgrims. What has happened?

In this editorial post on the historical grand concealment, we will try to establish the facts that constitute the solid basis of that troubling cover-up.

Then, in the next editorial post on the actual duplicity, we will identify the manoeuvers deployed by informers and key protagonists to conceal those informations that were interpreted as a threat to “the good cause”.

Our primary sources

They consist in the first section of Vicka’s Diary, one of the visionaries, and of 15 transcripts of taped interviews conducted by the Medjugorje pastoral personnel with the six visionaries, between the 27th and the 30th of June, 1981. I have presented elsewhere my encounter with Franciscan Father Ivo Sivric and the modalities of our collaboration that led to the publication of La face cachée de Medjugorje, in 1988, and its English translation, The Hidden Side of Medjugorje, in 1989.

Are our primary sources authentic?

The authenticity of the magnetic tapes that contain the conversations that have been transcribed is no more open to doubt. The original tapes are stored in the St. James parish archives and the duplicates are left at the bishopric of Mostar and at the residence of Mr. Grgo Kozina, a parishioner who has generously reproduced them for his friend, Fr. Sivric, and for Mrs. Daria Klanac, a Canadian citizen of Croatian origin and Medjugorje devotee, who published her transcriptions in French, in 1998.

Are our transcriptions reliable?

In 1987,I asked the Ordinary of Mostar to confirm in writing his permission to publish by validating each of the 38 documents and their translation into the French language that he knew well. He accepted with good grace as indicated by these first two pages of a complete list that he marked with his signature.

Donal Anthony Foley, who knows French well, has compared our transcriptions with those made by Mrs Klanac who published her own French version of them, ten years after our publication. His “judgment” is positive: our transcriptions are reliable… Please read his analysis in his book that I highly recommend, Understanding Medjugorje – Heavenly Visions or Religious Illusion? (p. 38-43) and on the Internet in a document that keeps the same pagination. He agrees that these tapes “are of primary importance in understanding Medjugorje, and that is why a study of their contents forms one of the central aspects of [t]his book. The reality is that they are a severe embarrassment to the official position held by supporters of Medjugorje.” (p. 43)

Ivan Zeljko, a theologian and psychologist whose mother tongue is Croatian also paid an hommage to Fr. Sivric in his doctoral thesis in theology (452 pages, 1621 notes) published in 2004: Marienerscheinungen – Schein und Sein aus theologischer und psychologischer Sicht – Dargestellt am Beispiel der Privatoffenbarungen in Medjugorje.

A short excerpt that I have translated from German reflects his respect for the work of Fr. Sivric: “It is, to my knowledge, the only work on the events in Medjugorje that has a scientific foundation. [...] In that critical study, Sivric presents in addition to numerous important informations and documents on Medjugorje the first taped interviews that have been made available to the public for the first time.” (p. 27-28)

As for the fervent and prolific chronicler of the “apparitions” at Medjugorje, Fr. René Laurentin, he reacted rapidly to the publication of La face cachée de Medjugorje by acknowledging the merit of the work:

Let us speak instead, about the merits of Father Sivric. He published and translated numerous interviews of the seers recorded from the first days, and gathered on tape by Monsignor Zanic and his commission.

I do not ignore these cassettes, I use them step-by-step in my book “Account of the Apparitions” and, moreover, having had them translated by some Croatian friends…

His sources are fundamental… The numerous Croatian documents which he translated in the course of his work, will provide a service to all specialists…

One can only congratulate him then for having deciphered and edited conscientiously these trying interviews. Such is the first part of Vicka’s diary… Whoever has a critical sense can pry from these spontaneous interviews some useful elements…

Briefly, the author is sincere and conscientious, …his tremendous documentation, …his intentions peaceful… Fr. Sivric’s presentation is systematic and passionate… it would be rude , false and insulting to call it deceitful. …Father Sivric’s zeal is sincere, thus laudable in intention. [Seven Years of Apparitions - Latest News From Medjugorje - Number 7 - Fall, 1988, p. 43-50]

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30 June 1981:

The visionaries announce the end of the “apparitions”

In the morning

The parish priest, Fr. Jozo Zovko, interviews Mirjana Dragicevic in the rectory [cf The Hidden Side of Medjugorje, Appendix 14, p. 331]:

Father ZOVKO: What do you think, is she going to come tonight?

MIRJANA: I think that she will, it’s for sure, she told us.

Father ZOVKO: Perhaps she won’t.

MIRJANA: I am going to question her on how many [more] days she is going to remain with us, to tell us exactly how many [more] days she is going to be with us…

[...]

Father ZOVKO: What do you think, how many [more] days will you be seeing her?

MIRJANA: Something keeps telling me: two to three more days…

In the evening

Before reproducing some parts of the interview with the visionaries, it is important to situate the context of the event.

The “apparition” does not take place on the Podbrdo, but rather in the village of Cerno, which is six or seven kilometers from Medjugorje; specifically, it happens along the road connecting Mostar to Citluk and Ljubuski. Two young women are with five of the visionaries, since the beginning of the afternoon. Ivan is absent.

Here is how Fr. Sivric presents the sudden turn of the situation: [The Hidden Side of Medjugorje, p. 63-65]

My second cousin, Mica Ivankovic, is employed by the county as a social worker in Citluk. Now married, she is not a Party member and goes to Mass and Communion every Sunday.

Ljubica Vasilj-Gluvic lives in Sarajevo. An employee of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Republic, she works on the Executive Council and is a member of the Communist Party. Ljubica is a very charming girl, well spoken of even by the visionaries, who had nothing but praise for these two young women.

In Cerno, they were with the visionaries, and, as we stated earlier, they suggested the questions for them to ask the Gospa. But, some hours later, in front of the visionaries and Father Zovko, they declared that they themselves had “seen and heard nothing.”

I am pointing out these facts because later, all sorts of disparaging stories were circulated in many places about these two fine people. Other innocent people have also been maligned.

The underlying idea in all of these calumnies was and still is to make people believe that God has a grudge against those who do not approve of or do not give their support in any way whatsoever to the Gospa’s apparitions in Medjugorje, or who are against them.

When Father Zovko asked who had the idea to go to Cerno, and whether others had induced them to do so, the visionaries protested vehemently and were unified in saying:

“It was our idea and we decided on the place!” It was Vicka who protested the most strongly, adding: “We chose the place and the rest and we didn’t need anyone to tell us what to do!”

As for their stopping in Cerno, it was really just happenstance. They arrived there at 6 p.m. Mica said that the communist authorities in Citluk were not considering removing the visionaries from Medjugorje that day, nor that they, Mica and Ljubica, had been sent by any official to carry out that task.

The idea of leaving Medjugorje came originally from the visionaries themselves in order to verify that the Gospa could appear to them elsewhere.

Thus, Mica and Ljubica took all the visionaries except Ivan for a ride in the car. First they went to an amusement park in Pocitelj, then stopped in Capljina, and then at the Kravica falls before returning to Medjugorje.

When the time came for the visions, Ljubica stopped the car and they all got out. The visionaries withdrew in order to have their vision, but the two young women kept close to them to see what they would ask. This time, Mirjana talked to the Gospa and asked some questions. On the way back, the visionaries stopped at the parish house in Medjugorje where they were questioned by Father Zovko.

“Three more days, which means until Friday”

As soon as they arrive to the rectory, the visionaries tell Fr. Zovko what happened in Cerno: [The Hidden Side of Medjugorje, Appendix 16, p. 346]

Father ZOVKO: Please tell me in detail, what did you talk about with the Gospa?

MIRJANA: I asked her how many [more] days she is going to stay with us, exactly how many [more] days she is going to stay with us. She said: “Three [more] days.”

Father ZOVKO: More…

MIRJANA: Three more days, which means until Friday. Then, we asked her if she was angry because we left the hillside [Podbrdo] and because we came here to the other place. She said that she was not angry.

Father ZOVKO: Where is it?

MIRJANA: We left a marker over there where we’ve been.

Father ZOVKO: Was it near the road?

MIRJANA: Yes. Then we asked her if she would be angry if we don’t go to the hillside [Podbrdo] anymore but rather into the church. She was rather indecisive when we asked her this question. It looked as if she didn’t like it. But finally, she said she wouldn’t be angry.

A second confirmation, from Mirjana. [The Hidden Side of Medjugorje, Appendix 16, p. 347]

One of the visionaries: She would appear at the same time.

MIRJANA: She [the Gospa] asked about Ivan: “Where is the other boy?”

Father ZOVKO: Wait! Is that going to be in the church at 6:30 p.m.?

MIRJANA: Yes.

Father ZOVKO (very much surprised): What?

MIRJANA: That we may come to church at 6:30.

Father ZOVKO: When?

MIRJANA: Until Friday, which means Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.

Father ZOVKO: Therefore, you will be in the church tomorrow?

MIRJANA: Yes.

A third confirmation, from Mica: [The Hidden Side of Medjugorje, Appendix 16, p. 361]

Mica IVANKOVIC: …Then I told them to ask if the Blessed Virgin Mary would be willing to appear in the church. They responded that she smiled and said that she would. Then Mirjana asked at what time. I didn’t ask them this. The Gospa said: “At the same time.”

And she asked more. How many [more] times she was going to appear to them. They said in unison: “Three times.” Then Mirjana-I don’t remember now whether it was Mirjana or somebody else-asked [her] to leave a sign.

JAKOV: That was me.

Finally four more confirmations, one after the other! [The Hidden Side of Medjugorje, Appendix 16, p. 371]

Mica IVANKOVIC: Then only Mirjana asked: “At what time?” She [the Gospa] said: “At the same time!” Then Mirjana asked again how many more times she would appear. She said: “Three more times!”

? (most probably Father KOSIR): Who said that?

ONE of the visionaries: The Gospa.

? (most probably Father KOSIR): Which of you said that?

MIRJANA (most probably): I.

?:… (incomprehensible). Ivo Sivric’s remark: Everyone is talking at once.

Father ZOVKO: Well, this interests me. “Three more times!” Well, when is all this going to end?

ALL the visionaries (in unison): On Friday.

Mica IVANKOVIC: Later on they said: “On Friday.”

Father ZOVKO: Where is it going to end on Friday?

JAKOV: In the church.

MIRJANA: Except perhaps if the Gospa tells us that she would prefer to appear on the hillside on the last day…

*******

What have we shown in that first part of The Grand Concealment?

Our sources are authentic, the transcripts are reliable and even appreciated by one of the most famous propagandists of Medjugorje.

In a very explicit manner, without the least ambiguity, the visionaries transmit with precision, by mutual agreement, the announcement of the end of the “apparitions” by the Lady of Medjugorje.

One would expect that such a capital announcement would have been communicated with all of its veridical content by the Medjugorje eminent protagonists who knew about it since the beginning of the events.

Nothing came to light.

The cover-up remained until the publication of The Hidden Side of Medjugorje, and even after, since the majority of the fervent pilgrims and of the devotees who are intolerant to critique are ignoring that announcement.

In our next editorial post on the actual duplicity, we will identify the manoeuvers deployed by informers and key protagonists to conceal those informations that were interpreted as a threat to “the good cause”.

Your commentaries are welcome, except the “anonymous” ones that will be discarded.

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With my cordial greetings,

Louis Bélanger