June 21st, 1981: Ivanka Ivankovic is 15 years old today…
It does not seem to be a happy anniversary. She is in grief by her mother’s sudden death due to an attack of bronchial asthma, on April 1981, at the age of 39. The grief is enhanced by the fact that her mother died alone.
Inescapably separated from her mother during this fifteenth birthday, Ivanka is experiencing the profound suffering of a grieving adolescent. Could her Heavenly Mother be of any help in her agonizing grief, as a spiritual substitute of her earthly mother?
Back to the future…
To my knowledge, no member of the Medjugorje Franciscan pastoral personal took into account those crucial psycho-affective dynamics. Strangely, Fr. Slavko Barbaric, who had a university background in psychology and played an important pastoral role in the parish, did not analyse and even consider the dimension of grief and its intensity concerning the adolescent Ivanka. We have evoked that important aspect in an article published last year.
In the critical study by Prof. Theophile Kammerer published recently by the Bishop of Mostar, a similar observation has been expressed:
Curiously, only one psychological personal datum is mentioned, not in the expertise but in the story of the first apparitions, reduced to a mere allusion. It concerns the first seer, Ivanka, 15 years old, who had lost her mother a few weeks before the first apparition (May 1981)***.
More can be said: she was the one who, in the second apparition, asked the Virgin the first question, a personal question, asking for news of her mother. Response of the Virgin: “Your mother is fine, she is with me.”
It could be that the death of her mother has played, on a psychological level, an important role in the genesis of the first vision of Ivanka. But no one could give his opinion, of course, on this issue without more information. Everyone knows, in fact, that the loss of a mother, especially for a teenager, can be a profound and disturbing emotional stress.
In the case of Ivanka, precise information would be required about the disease (or possibly the accident) and the death of her mother, the personality of the latter, her role in the family, her religious life and her behavior, the reactions produced by her death, etc.
I am using the date mentioned by the team of psychiatrists who visited Ivanka at her family’s home in Bijakovici, in January 1986. They write on page 12 of their report: “La madre, sofferente di asma bronchiale, è deceduta nel mese di aprile 1981 all’età di 39 anni.”]