Visiting Medjugorje pilgrimage Village in Bosnia and Herzegovina
I saw this whilst looking on Google maps and it peaked my curiosity. Medjugorje Pilgrimage village is one of the most famous pilgrimage sites in Europe, since the first apparition from Mary was experienced in 1982.
With over 1 million visitors a year and 10,000 hotel beds available and an unusual record for the most overnight stays in Bosnia and Herzegovina, I knew that there must be something going on that needed investigating, so a visit to Medjugorje pilgrimage village went on our list of things to do in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
A little history on Medugorje
The town of Medjugorje came about as a Catholic religious pilgrimege site in 1981. It is said that an apparition of Mary came before 6 children on what is now known as Apparition Hill.
Since then, Mary has continued to make appearances to these six children (now adults) and given signs – from hearts and crosses around the sun to messages to people who are praying.
There is also a statue of ‘The Risen Christ’ which leaks a fluid from the knee. The fluid from the knee is said to be a kind of oily watery substance, which people queue to take a tissue to collect the liquid. The fluid is said to have turned red and also leaked from both knees and in some instance from everywhere – and at other times stopped completely.
In 2019, the Vatican officially authorised pilgrimages to Medjugorje, with the first Vatican sanctioned pilgrimage taking place with 60,000 young Catholics from 97 countries.
MEDUGORJE, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
Getting to medugorje
Getting to Medjugorje Pilgrimage village ties in very nicely with a visit to the Kravice waterfalls on the way down from Mostar.
It is only a 30 minute drive from Mostar from Medjugorje if you are heading south towards Montenegro or the 12 miles of Bosnian beach.
If you are coming up from Kravice, the drive is 20 mins on the R424, the roads are fine and its a very straightforward journey.
things to do around Medugorje
Obviously the big draw here is the religious background. There key places to see in this town:
- Statue of the Risen Christ
- Apparition Hill
- St James Church
- The Blue Cross
- Nancy and Patricks Castle
The statue of the Risen Christ has queues of people that all want to take liquid from the knee of the statue and do whatever they do with it. After people have done this, they may sit on the outer seating and watch others do the same, either lost in thought of their own experience or reflecting.
There are beautiful mosaics that line a walkway that lead you to St James church, which has seating for over 5000 people at any given service.
Having seen the church and the Risen Christ and the immediate surroundings then you may wish to wander into town for coffee or lunch and buy souvenirs. This place is totally set up for religious tourism. You can buy a statue of Mary from 6 inches to 6 feet from the shops surrounding – along with candles, cups and keyrings.
At his point, you may want to move on to see the other big draws in the area – that is Apparition Hill – which is probably a 20 minute hike in each direction – or an extra 30 minutes to see the cross which sits atop of the mountain and has been there since 1933 to mark the 1900th anniversary of the crucifixion of Christ.
As you can see, I went to the Blue Cross, which is a very short 5 minute walk and then, although I intended to walk to Apparition Hill, I couldn’t find the directions, so gave up and had a coffee instead.
We did however walk back round to the Castle of Nancy and Patrick – which was an absolutely stunner of a building. We were not really sure what we were expecting to be honest – a restored castle from the Ottoman period or something. Turns out this is a totally modern castle that has been built 100% from new, as a religious retreat.
Nancy welcomed us in and gave us a coffee and a piece of cake that they had just made for 100 Ukrainian priests that were staying at the time. They started building the castle back in 1999 after a calling from Mary, and have been adding to the castle from that day on. They have created a retreat for priests, nuns, seminarians and volunteers in wonderful surroundings.
When we were invited in, Nancy said “If I came to your door, would you invite me in for coffee” which actually made sense at the time, but thinking about it, it makes no sense at all! If someone came to my door asking for coffee, I would think they were mad, but her delivery was so serene and friendly, we sat at the table in the kitchen and drank coffee!
A young boy called Benedict showed us around the whole castle and talked about his own experiences with religion and what his and his family’s experience was with Medjugorje. He talked about his parents taking the liquid from the knee of the Risen Christ and his own, saying the feeling of it was of oily water and that it smelt really fragrant – not like roses, but very floral – like nothing else. He said it really was a miracle. He was 17.
Where to Stay
We did stayed one night, mostly because we slow travel everywhere as part of our nomadic lifestyle.
The place we stayed at was a big carpark which was at the back of the Parish of Saint James the Greater. It was a massive car park with plenty of space and no trouble from anyone (as you would expect in a town with a focus on religion). There was no cost and in very close proximity to the key attractions of the town.
There are a couple of campsites on P4N, both of them on the other side of town and very reasonable at 10 euros for 24 hours with facilities.
Final thoughts on medjugorje, Bosnia
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