June 25th, 1981 : the second “encounter” between the Lady of Medjugorje” and Ivanka Ivankovic (15) accompanied by Mirjana Dragicevic (16), Vicka Ivankovic (16), Marija Pavlovic (16) and Jakov Colo (10) is taking place at the end of the afternoon.
Ivanka decides to go back to the place where she saw a white silhouette the day before.
“Everybody kept telling us how she [the Gospa] had appeared 18 times in Lourdes at the same occasion.” (to Fr. Cuvalo, taped on 1981-06-27 – The Hidden Side of Medjugorje, p. 206)
Ivan Dragicevic is absent:
The first evening I was with them, the second I wasn’t. (idem, p. 222)
The second evening I didn’t go, I worked in the field, I was picking tobacco leaves. (idem, p. 228)
Ivanka takes some time to spot the “Lady of Medjugorje” then cries out:
She just appeared to us. There she is! There she is! (idem, p. 207-208)
We asked her for a sign, and she left it on the watch. (idem, p. 209)
I arrived and I lowered my hands [and I said]: “My Gospa, give us some sign,” and I didn’t mean on the ground. And again, nonchalantly: “My Gospa, give us some kind of a sign.” Then, I [turned and said] to Mirjana: “What time is it?” She said to me: “Vicka, the watch has made a complete revolution.” She said that to me at that moment… (idem, p. 209)
The first time when I asked her about my mother, she said: “She is well.” (idem, p. 212)
I asked: “My Gospa, are you going to come tomorrow?” She was nodding her head and was slowly leaving, and said: “Go in God’s peace!” (idem, p. 210)
On the second day, according to the visionaries,
the “Lady of Medjugorje”
“She is well.” (concerning deceased Ivanka’s mother)
“Go in God’s peace”
a sign on Mirjana’s watch.
The so-called messages and sign of the “Lady of Medjugorje” begin to take form on the second day of the Medjugorje events. It is important for the reader to know more about our primary sources and our position.
→ 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.
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, Medjugorje Revisited (p. 26-34) 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. 33)
Ivan Zeljko, a theologian and psychologist whose mother tongue is Croatian also paid an hommage to our work 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 our work: “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)
→ Medjugorje: a collective construction
Thanks to the tools developed by disciplines I am more familiar with such as psychology, electrophysiology, socio-politology, I have tried to reconstruct the first minutes of Medjugorje’s events in their proper context and discern the stakes that permitted their continuation.
The main protagonist of the first days is Ivanka Ivankovic. She was 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 was enhanced by the fact that her mother died alone. The Medjugorje events began three days after her 15th birthday.
Ivanka is the first to have named the Gospa. She was accompanied by Mirjana Dragicevic who didn’t feel the need to look at the Podbrdo, thereby confirming her “imperience”, or the profound inner experience of a grieving adolescent. To my knowledge, no member of the pastoral personal took into account those crucial psycho-affective dynamics.
If there is something authentic at the beginning of the events, it is surely that spontaneous appeal to a spiritual substitute of her earthly mother. The following day, Ivanka is again the first to see the entity she names the Gospa. She inquires about her mother and even hopes to see her. She said later on that she saw her deceased mother four times until the ultimate daily “apparition” on May 7th, 1985.
Because of those personal events of outstanding importance, the meticulous analyst should refrain from pretending that fraud presided to the creation of the event.
I want to clarify straightaway what I mean by using the expression “Lady of Medjugorje”. It does not refer to the Virgin Mary, the important spiritual figure whose qualities have been acknowledged and specified by the Catholic Church over the centuries.
The Lady of Medjugorje (LoM), according to my perception, is the product of a collective construction initiated by Ivanka Ivankovic, on June 24th 1981, shaped first by the visionaries and later by the Croatian pastoral personnel of St. James parish who, to a certain extent, controlled her image and messages communicated worldwide. Those are continuing to be her fervent zealots.
I wish my respectful position to be remembered as such concerning:
a peculiar character, created by Medjugorje protagonists,
which does not involve the Virgin Mary or Gospa, as Croats call Her, whose birthday is celebrated today, and who is not the target of my working hypothesis.
Back to the second day (1981-06-25)
I would like to pinpoint the following observations:
– Ivan Dragicevic is absent;
– auditory indication that the Lady of Medjugorje (LoM) is appearing or disappearing;
– visionaries agree that a sign is given by the LoM on Mirjana’s watch;
– Ivanka inquires about her deceased mother and hears from the LoM that she is well.
While preparing the “Mystery” in the making…, it seemed to me so interesting to analyse what the main propagandists have made out of those observations that I decided to initiate a new series of articles entitled: Medjugorje – the devil lies in the details… that will identify and examine the “details” I find significant. The said observations concerning the second day will be treated in the first post of the new series, hopefully next week.