Category: Testimonies

She went to Medjugorje and didn’t want to leave

Yvonne Resendez

Yvonne Resendez, the Master of Ceremonies at the recent Medjugorje Healing Conference in Fremont, California, on November 6th, joyfully shared a couple of stories of her experience on pilgrimage in Medjugorje. She told of how she had gone there for her mother’s 70th birthday, and how she had bought her mother a necklace from Tiffany’s (with an emblem of a shopping bag, since her mom loves to shop), thinking that this was quite the gift! She gave the necklace to her mom on Cross Mountain, but Mary of Medjugorje wanted to grace her mother with yet another present, and on that mountain turned her mother’s rosary to gold, thus saying: “This, my children, is the more important necklace.”

Yvonne also shared how her father had never in his life wanted to pray the rosary with his wife, despite years of her requesting it, and without a suggestion, prompt, or even an intercessory prayer, when she and Yvonne returned from Medjugorje, her father said spontaneously, “I’d like to pray the rosary with you.” And he has prayed it every day since that moment, years ago.

In this short audio clip, hear Yvonne speak about the rest of her beautiful pilgrimage. Click here to listen.

Crossing the world to encounter the Virgin Mary

“I could feel my veins vibrating with the intensity of peace that I was experiencing. If anyone had spoken to me at that moment, I would not have heard them. I knew immediately that the presence I was feeling was Mary.”

Theresa Noble in Croatia

Medugorje is not a Marian apparition site approved by the Catholic Church yet. The reason for this is that the Church waits until apparitions are over before investigating and putting their official seal of approval on them. The apparitions have not ended in Medugorje yet, so there is controversy among Catholics as to whether or not Mary is really appearing there.

I went to Medugorje with an open heart, but not completely sure of the apparitions. As the trip began, I looked around with a discerning heart asking God for guidance, and I believe He came through. By the end of the trip, I was convinced that Mary is indeed appearing in Medugorje.

When we arrived, most of my family was stunned by the literally thousands of pilgrims in the small town, who came for the Youth Conference. There were over 50,000 people there for the week-long festival, and it was difficult to weave between so many people to make it from one place to another. But underneath the chaos, I felt a peace in the town that was stronger than the temporary havoc. At one moment of struggle with the crowds, my heart cried out to Mary for help and I felt her say, “Jesus is in your heart. He always is. Find Him.” I immediately felt a sort of vibrating core inside of me, and I placed my mind and my heart there. I will never forget that moment of peace and a subsequent experience I will share that was so much more peaceful than it would have been because I was holding on to the King of Peace inside of me.

The first afternoon we listened to several testimonies from priests and religious, and I was particularly moved by the talk by Sister Elvira Petrozzi, the founder of the Cenacolo Community in Medjugorje, an oasis for addicts and all those who have sought meaning in the illusory things of this world and lost their happiness and sense of identity in the process. Her spirit was full of joy. She jumped around the stage calling out to everyone, telling them that the most important thing is to always smile. Her joy was contagious and pretty soon the whole crowd was singing and dancing along with this 80-something-year-old woman.

Later that afternoon we went to hear two of the visionaries, Ivan and Marija speak to the pilgrims. I was especially moved by Ivan’s talk. He began by urging all of us to pray for the visionaries. “We are ordinary people,” he said, “trying our best to be holy. But just as it is hard for you, it is hard for us as well.” With that introduction, he spent the rest of the talk focusing on the messages of Mary, particularly that of peace. As I listened to him, I could feel an actual peace that came from his voice. It was as if by seeing the Queen of Peace, he was better able to communicate peace to us, even in the manner in which he spoke to the crowd. As I left the park, I considered what the visionaries would act like if the apparitions were a farce. Would they be peaceful? Would they be prayerful people? Humble? No. I could sense their genuineness, and I was impressed by the focus of everything they said. It was all about Mary and Jesus. Nothing was about them or their personal opinion.

That evening my whole family went to Mass, and I was struck by a thought that kept coming back to me throughout the trip–The biggest miracle I will ever see on this Earth is the miracle of the Eucharist. It exceeds even the Virgin Mary appearing to me in person–not that it has happened! Miki, our guide, told us that all miracles are intended to bring us closer to Jesus in the form of the Eucharist, and this became so true for me during this trip. Even Mary makes this clear in her apparitions. She frequently gives a motherly blessing to those whom she appears to, but she makes it clear that her blessing is not the same as getting the blessing of Jesus through any priest. She also, at one point, told all of the visionaries that if they had a choice between coming to see her and going to Mass, they should choose the Mass.

The focus of the messages also convinced me of their veracity. Mary gives very simple messages. Just as David slew Goliath with five small stones, she encourages us to use five weapons against evil: Pray, Fast, Go to Confession, Read the Bible, Go to Mass to receive the Eucharist.

One of the last days we were in Medugorje we all met with the visionary Mirjana. Immediately I could sense a kind of holiness that I really admire, a holiness that is similar to one of my favorite saints, Padre Pio. She was very intuitive, and I could tell she could immediately sense what was in my heart. She was kind, but I knew she would not hesitate to tell me, through her eyes or her words, the truth, even if it hurt my ego. This is a charity that we often do not appreciate because it can cause us to feel bad about our faults. But it is one that does not judge but rather urges us closer to Jesus.

She answered many questions, but the thing that stuck most in my mind was her urging to love and to love always. She kept saying, “Do not judge. This is how we can love. Do not judge.” And this message is one that I think really hits at the core of what love is. Love is not kindness at all times. But even if our love requires us to say or do something that might hurt another, it is always done in charity and without judgment. This is very difficult to do.

I was also impressed by her answer to my question about how she deals with high expectations that result from being a visionary. She immediately said, “I feel sorry for anyone who focuses on me, and I pray for them. I am not what should be focused on, but rather the message of our Lady is what is most important. I am not important.”

She responded to all of our questions with an almost unnerving directness and humility that really left me with a sense of peace. After leaving my conversation with her, I told my sister Elizabeth, “I was not sure about this when I came, but I am sure now. I believe in Medugorje.”

I did not need the final experience that I am going to share to be convinced of the apparitions, but I will be eternally grateful to God for the blessing of the final night we spent in Medugorje. My family climbed Apparition Hill, where Mary first appeared to the visionaries, in order to be near an apparition that was going to happen to the visionary Ivan. I did not expect to be present for an actual apparition, and I was excited but also nervous. I was afraid that if I did not feel anything, I might walk away doubting again, but I am glad that God did not test my faith. Instead He allowed me to feel the presence of His mother in a very strong way.

As we waited for 10PM, the hour she was going to appear, several things happened to cause unrest among the crowd. First a woman came up the hill guided by two other people, and she was screaming at the top of her lungs. Her scream did not sound human. It was haunting and gave me chills. My friend Erin explained to me that this might happen, that people who are unwell spiritually or mentally are often brought to Medugorje for healing. But even though I knew what was happening, it gave me a very sick feeling inside. After her screams died down, a group of pilgrims came pushing through the crowd and inserted themselves directly in front of us, blocking our view of Ivan and the statue of Mary. My family immediately protested, but the people in front of us remained in their hardened wall, completely surrounding us. I knew that the hour was approaching, so I closed my eyes and begged God to take these negative feelings away, so that I could peacefully experience whatever it was that He wanted me to experience.

A few moments later I experienced the presence of Mary. The feeling I felt did not creep up on me or gradually enter my heart, it came upon my like a tidal wave of peace and love. I could feel my veins vibrating with the intensity of peace that I was experiencing. If anyone had spoken to me at that moment, I would not have heard them. I knew immediately that the presence I was feeling was Mary. There was something in her spirit that connected with mine, a kind of femininity that I never had sensed before in the spirit of God. I immediately gave her all of my concerns and the deepest longings of my heart.

She could hear that my deepest love was for my family, and she said to me, “Hope. Hope. Always have hope.” I then saw Mary in my mind with her mantle around my family guiding them from their earliest years. I felt that she was saying to me that she has always been protecting my family, as a mother, and always will. I felt her say to me that I feel love for my family, but my human love will never compare with the love that our Heavenly Mother feels for them. I then received for the first time a very tangible feeling of what her motherly love is like. It was deep and intense and like nothing I had ever felt before. It was a perfect love. A love that is like the best aspects of a human mother’s love, but much deeper and more powerful. When the intensity of the experience faded, I was left with a joy and strength that I had never felt before.

I cannot explain how I am different now after my trip to Medugorje. I think I will never really know until I get to Heaven what happened in my soul over those four short days. But I am thankful to my Heavenly Mother for her love and for allowing me to experience what happened in my heart during that time. As I prepare to enter an order of sisters as a postulant, I pray that she will continue to guide me in order to follow Christ with my entire heart and to “do whatever He tells me.”

By Theresa Noble

The true story of the boy who drowned when visiting Medjugorje

This story was just circulated by Sr. Emmanuel, who was able to interview the boy’s family:

Dominik and the Youth Festival

A surprising event took place in Medjugorje on August 3rd. Since the articles on the internet about the events spread many errors, I wanted to make a serious inquiry before writing about it. So, below I have written the facts as I received them from Dominik’s family.

Dominik Juros, a young Slovakian of 16, born in a Catholic family from the village of Hran, came to the Youth Festival this summer with other young people from his area. During the preceding months, Dominik went through a period of inner rebellion, mostly concerning faith. He no longer wanted to serve at Mass as altar boy; and he refused to pray with his parents.

Although this group had signed up for a pilgrimage, they were not really interested in the Youth Festival or in God in general. They behaved more like tourists on vacation.

On August 3rd, the heat was extreme in Medjugorje. The group decided to go swimming at the waterfalls of Kravica with Janko, their guide, rather than follow the program of the Festival. Dominik slipped into the icy water, and sank 9 or 10 feet deep. He managed to surface several times, but no one noticed that he was drowning. Instead, people around him thought he was playing a game. Ten minutes later, Janko began to worry because he could no longer see him! So he swam to the spot where he had last seen him.

With the help of a few people, Janko was able to pull Dominik out of the water. But his heart had stopped. It took 15 to 20 minutes of resuscitation to make it beat again, but on the way to Mostar’s hospital, his heart stopped beating again. His lungs no longer worked. At the hospital Dominik was put into an induced coma and his vital bodily functions were taken over by medical devices.

The next day, his parents rushed from Slovakia to Mostar. After hearing what had happened, all the young people at the Festival started praying fervently for him, and this beautiful chain of love continued day and night! Even Dominik’s bus companions, suddenly seized by the fear of God, started to pray. Each went to Confession and they attended Mass with great piety.

On August 5th, surrounded by his family and with a lot of prayers, Dominik showed unexpected signs of awareness. Although unconscious, he would press his mother’s hand or shed tears. He woke up on August 7th, and his organs revived. His first reaction was to cry, begging his parents to forgive him. He grabbed the hand of his mother and asked her to pray with him, and to pray a lot. He wanted to confess his sins, so they asked a priest to come. He was then transferred to a hospital in Slovakia, where he began walking and talking freely. Four weeks later, he was back in school. His Slovakian doctor reports that Dominik’s recovery is shocking, considering what he endured.

Dominik shared some interesting aspects of his experience. For instance, although unconscious at the time, when he was taken out of the water, he saw his parents in Slovakia sitting in front of television, and he knew what they were doing and where they were going. On August 8th, according to people present and his own words, he became hypersensitive, felt intense inner struggles, and had unusual perceptions.

According to Dominik, while he was between life and death, he felt threatened by “dark figures” present in the hospital, some standing at the door and others causing havoc in the room, accusing him. These figures were constantly trying to prevent his mother from praying at his bedside. Dominik’s face lit up when he felt the presence of a person full of light, peace and joy, who he thinks was the Blessed Mother. When someone entered his room carrying some water, he knew that it was Holy Water and thought “Oh, blessed water! That will help me now!” He said he could perceive the prayers of his family as peaceful, positive, very helpful and full of life.

Dominik was able to see Purgatory. There he saw two young people, from a neighboring town, suffering. He saw that they had burned a car and later were killed in an accident. He saw Angels, splendid beings dressed in white, with beautiful faces. He said he saw Jesus face to face and said that Jesus had the most beautiful eyes. When his family was praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy at his bedside, he asked them, “Can you smell that wonderful fragrance?” “What fragrance?” His mother asked. “The blood of Jesus! It has a wonderful fragrance!” He answered.

There are many details to the story that will not fit here, however it is important to note that Dominik’s mother consecrated him to Our Lady at his conception.

Dominick often repeated that we should love each other and forgive one another; that love is the most important thing in life. He insistently asked members of his family to treat each other with much more love, even in the smallest things, and to always forgive and to have no enemies. With his short, but sweet taste of Heaven, Dominik regretted that the medical team had saved his life!

We know that normally, after a few minutes under water, the brain is damaged for lack of oxygen. But in Dominik’s case, only God knows whether it is, medically, a miracle. This is of little importance! What is beautiful in this event, is that it happened when 40,000 youth of the Festival were praying in Medjugorje. The Lord used this teenager, going through a crisis, to put all his friends on their knees, (those present in Medjugorje and those in Slovakia), to inspire them to go to Confession and to turn their hearts to God. Moreover, to some of those kids who put earthly things in the first place of their life, and who thought they could make it without God, Dominik’s experience revealed another world, other values, and reminded them of the most vital commandment of Jesus: “Love one another as I have loved you!”

Dominik does not remember everything, but the effect of grace is very obvious in his life. He has turned into a young man who today prays profoundly, who lives his faith with fervor, and who happily joins his parents and family in prayer. He shows great reverence for the Cross of Jesus and for Our Lady. All his relatives are grateful for what the mercy of God did for him. Even his grandfather, a former obstinate opponent of Medjugorje, now wants to come. Magnificat!

From Sr. Emmanuel’s Medjugorje September, 2010 newsletter

A homeless heroin addict is transformed in Medjugorje

Goran

A schizophrenic, homeless drug addict calls out to
Mary, beginning an ascent from the streets to the life
of a happy, healthy family man.

Sometimes stories of hope are what one needs to keep going, to keep, believing, to keep striving in the face of incredible odds, pain, suffering, and opposition. Goran’s story is one such true tale. It reminds us that no person, no situation is beyond hope, for when we call out to Mary to intercede for us, anything is possible. Here’s how Goran’s story begins . . .

I woke up again. Who knows how long I’d been unconscious. This time I’d downed a bunch of pills, a bottle of vodka, and a shot of heroin; but trying to kill myself never seemed to work.

Shivering, I crawled across the floor of the derelict, windowless building I’d wandered into and pulled a sheet of plastic over my dying body. I just wanted to rest. Unable to sleep for months, I only traveled in and out of nightmares.

It was the middle of winter. I was thirty years old. I had no one and nothing, not even food. As I lay on the floor, staring at the wall, I felt utterly alone—despised. Perhaps this was just another nightmare . . . but the bitter cold that cut into my bones told me otherwise. I felt dead, but I was still alive.

For the first time since I was a child, I began to cry. I tried to pray but I couldn’t remember how. I never really learned, and I hadn’t ever really tried. What were the words? Through my tears, and from the depths of my soul, I began to call out to the Mother of God . . .

This story in its entirety is told in the book Full of Grace: Miraculous Stories of Healing and Conversion through Mary’s Intercession.

Medjugorje Healing Conference, November 6, 2010

Come hear remarkable testimonies, listen to excellent speakers, receive prayer from priests with the gift of healing, hear beautiful music, experience Adoration, Mass, Reconciliation, and a beautiful procession with the Blessed Sacrament. Sign-ups are happening now. Only $20 per person. Free lunch provided. Call (510) 635-1920. See www.holychoices.org/conference

Medjugorje Healing Conference

View Conference Flyer

View Conference Schedule and Registration

View Bios and Pictures of Conference Presenters

Saturday, November 6,  9am – 4:30pm

St. James the Apostle Catholic Church, 34700 Fremont Blvd, Fremont, CA 94555

Actor James Caviezel says, if it weren’t for Medjugorje, he would have never played Christ in “The Passion”

In February, 2010, James Caviezel made his sixth pilgrimage to Medjugorje, and afterwards travelled to Vienna where he gave an interview to Christian Stelzer for the magazine Oase des Friedens. The following is taken from the Croatian translation, published in the latest edition of the Medjugorje parish magazine, Glasnik mira.

• Jim, can you tell us, how did you hear about Medjugorje?

My wife came to Medjugorje while I was in Ireland, shooting the movie “Monte Cristo.” Things were not that great, although I worked seven days a week. One day she called me, and I could notice in her voice that there was a change. She started talking about Medjugorje, and how one of visionaries was about to come to Ireland. I interrupted her by saying: “Listen, I really have some serious stuff to do. I am not able now to go into anything with any of the visionaries.” Besides that, I thought that, as a Catholic, I didn’t have to necessarily accept Lourdes or Fatima or Medjugorje. That is how I thought. I remember that in the Catholic school I attended earlier in my life, when we heard about Medjugorje we were thrilled, but we soon found out that the local bishop was objecting and considered the apparitions to be false, and so we lost our interest immediately.

The visionary Ivan Dragicevic came to Ireland, and I knew straightaway that I would not have time for him, since I had to work all the time. One day my movie partner Jim Harris wasn’t feeling well, so I got the day off, and I was able to attend an apparition. I stood at the very back of the packed church, and I wasn’t quite sure about what was going on. But when the man next to me in his wheelchair fell down on his knees at the time of the apparition, I was deeply moved. I thought, This handicapped man, despite all of his pains, is kneeling down on the cold stone floor, and he is praying! Today I realize only God could have known me so well. He knew where exactly He needed to touch me to get my attention!

Although it might sound strange, on the following Sunday, I got another day off, and I was able to meet with Ivan, which was my wife’s special wish. During the time of apparition, I knelt close to him, and I said in my heart, “Okay, here I am. I am ready. Do with me what you want.” In the same moment, I felt as something was fulfilling me. It was very simple, and yet unique. When I got up, tears were running down my cheeks, and I started to cry with all of my heart.

Ivan told me, “Jim. Man always finds time for what he loves. If somebody who doesn’t have any time finds a girlfriend and falls in love with her, he will always find time for her. People don’t have time for God, because they do not love Him.” And he continued, “God is inviting you to pray with the heart.”

I asked him: “How am I supposed to do that?”

“By starting to pray,” he replied. In that moment the doors of my heart were opened. I couldn’t have even dreamed of that being possible. We went to a restaurant, and I must admit that the wine and food I had was never as tasteful as on that particular night.

Something started to change within me. My wife wanted to teach me on many occasions in the past how to pray the rosary, but I always refused to learn. Now I wanted to pray, but I did not know exactly how to do that. I just felt that my heart was opened. One morning, as I was driving to work, I said to the driver who was taking me for filming every day, “I don’t know how you feel about this, but I would want to start to pray the rosary.” To my amazement, he just replied, “Okay, let’s pray.”

In the warm light of love that I felt within me, I was able to realize where I really was, how many temptations I had, what my feelings were, how weak I was, and how strictly I judged other people.

• When did you come to Medjugorje for the first time?

After filming was completed, and that was in Malta, I decided to come to Medjugorje. When I was 20, an inner voice would say to me that I should become an actor. When I spoke about that with my father, he used to say, “If God wants something of you it is for you to become a priest. Why would He want you to become an actor?” I did not understand either at that time.

Again, I asked myself the same question, Does God want me to become an actor to make lots of money and to become rich? I was aware of the imbalance in the world between those who have a lot and those who barely have enough for survival, and I knew that was not what God wanted. And was I to make a choice to seek wealth, which does not provide permanent happiness, or to serve God, Who wants to guide my life?

At that time, Medjugorje reminded me of Bethlehem, and I thought, Just as Jesus was born in a small place, in the same way, the Mother of God is appearing in a poor village in between hills. Those four days I spent in Medjugorje, at that time, were my turning point. In the very beginning, I was still amazed at how much people prayed in Medjugorje. Everything reminded me of basketball camp. There you do not play just one match a day, but continually. The same as in school, where you do not read just once a day, but always, repeatedly. In those first days in Medjugorje, I felt inner unrest while I was praying, because I was not used to praying that much, and I was asking God to help me. After four days the only thing I wanted to do was to pray. Whenever I prayed, I felt connected with God. That was an experience I would wish for every Catholic! Maybe as a child, I felt something similar, and I forgot about it. Now it was given to me again.

The same experience continued back at home. In our family, we live the sacraments together. As we drive the kids to school, we pray the rosary together. Sometimes when I don’t start to pray, my son starts first.

When I came to Medjugorje for the second time, I expected to have those first, initial experiences again, but it was different. After lunch one day, some pilgrims invited me to go with them to visit Fr. Jozo Zovko in Siroki Brijeg. That was also my wife’s desire. I didn’t know Fr. Jozo personally, but I was very much impressed by all stories I heard about him. I met with him. He laid his hands on my shoulders. I laid mine on his shoulders. He laid his hands on my head. I laid mine on his head. In that moment, I felt the words within me: “I love you, my brother. This man loves God.” Fr. Jozo spontaneously turned towards his interpreter and asked her who I was and said that he wanted to talk to me. That was beginning of a lasting friendship.

That was the time immediately after we finished shooting the “Passion,” and around that time, I was able to experience all conflicting forces within me regarding that movie.

• Can you tell us why you felt that way, and what was the connection between that movie and Medjugorje?

You are probably familiar with expression “to cross the Rubicon.” That means it is not possible to go back. You reach the point of no return. The “Passion” was such a Rubicon for me. When shooting started, I was 33 years old, just like Jesus. I always wondered if I was even worthy to play Jesus. Ivan Dragicevic encouraged me and said that God does not always necessarily choose the best, which is something he sees in his own situation. If it wasn’t for Medjugorje, I wouldn’t have ever agreed to take that part, because it was in Medjugorje that my heart opened to prayer and to the sacraments. If I wanted to play Jesus, I knew I needed to be very close to Him. Every day I went to Confession, and I attended Eucharistic Adoration. Mel Gibson was coming to Holy Mass, as well, with the condition that Holy Mass was in Latin. That was good because in that way I learned Latin.

There were always new temptations from which I needed to defend myself, and in those inner battles, I used to feel great inner peace – for instance, in the scene where the Mother of God approaches me, and I say to her: “Look, I make everything anew.” We repeated that scene four times, and I felt every time that I was standing too much in the forefront. Then somebody hit the cross, and my left shoulder was dislocated. Due to that sudden and sharp, intense pain, I lost balance, and I fell under the weight of the cross. I hit the dusty ground with my face, and blood gushed forth suddenly from my nose and mouth. I repeated the words Jesus said to His mother: “Look, I make everything anew.” My shoulder was in incredible pain when I took the cross again and felt how precious it was. At that point, I stopped acting, and you could only see Jesus. He came forward as to the answer to my prayer: “I want people to see you, Jesus, not me!”

Thanks to continuous prayer of the rosary – I can’t begin to tell how many rosaries I said during the time of shooting – I was able to experience a special grace. I knew I wasn’t supposed to use bad language. I knew I couldn’t be rude if I wanted to say something to members of the crew. Most of them did not know about Medjugorje. They were all great actors, and we were lucky to get them. But how was I to bring Medjugorje to them, if not by my own life? Medjugorje, for me, means to live the sacraments and be in unity with the Church. Thanks to Medjugorje, I started to believe that Jesus was really present in the Eucharist and that He forgives my sins. Through Medjugorje, I experienced how the rosary is a powerful prayer and what a gift we have when we attend Holy Mass every day.

How could I help other people to increase their faith in Jesus? I realized that this can only happen if Jesus is present in me through the Eucharist, and so people would see Jesus through my life. When we were shooting the scene of the Last Supper, I had an inner pocket made in my clothes where I placed some relics of saints and a relic of Christ’s Cross. I had a strong desire for Jesus to be really present, and so I asked the priest to expose the Blessed Sacrament. At first, he did not want to do that, but I was persistent in asking, because I was positive that people would recognize Christ more, if I myself was looking at Him. The priest was standing with the Blessed Sacrament in his hands next to a cameraman, and together with him, he approached me. When people watch the movie and see a shimmer in my eyes, they are not aware that they really see Jesus, a reflection of the consecrated Host, in my eyes. The same was in the scene of the Crucifixion. The priest was there; he held the Blessed Sacrament in his hands, and I prayed all the time.

The biggest challenge in the movie was not, as I originally thought, to memorize all the texts in Latin, Aramaic, or Hebrew, but all the physical efforts I needed to overcome. During the last scene, my shoulder was sprained, and it became dislocated every time somebody hit the cross. While we filmed the scenes of the scourging, I was twice caught by those whips, and I had a 14 cm wound on my back. My lungs were full of fluid, and I had pneumonia. Chronic sleep deprivation should be added to that, since for months, I had to get up at 3:00 in the morning, because make-up would take almost eight hours.

Another special challenge was the cold weather, temperatures hardly above zero, which was especially difficult to endure in the Crucifixion scene. My whole costume was made of one single piece of light fabric. While we were shooting the last scene, the clouds were very low and lightning struck the cross to which I was tied. Suddenly everything was silent around me, and I felt my hair standing on edge. About 250 people who were around me saw my whole body being illuminated, and they all saw fire on the left and on the right side of me. Many were shocked at what they saw.

I know that the “Passion” is movie of love, maybe one of the greatest of such movies. Jesus today is subject of many controversies, more than ever before. There are so many factors that threaten this created world, but faith in Jesus is the source of joy. I think God is calling us in a special way in this time, and we need to answer that call with our whole heart and whole body.

Read more stories of conversion involving Medjugorje in the book: Full of Grace: Miraculous Stories of Healing and Conversion through Mary’s Intercession.

Medjugorje miracles bring John and Judy to the Catholic faith

Judith Riddle

My husband John and I were married in a civil ceremony in 1984. John was not Catholic, and I was a fallen away Catholic. Why we ended up in Medjugorje was truly an invitation from the Blessed Mother In April of 1989, my mother died, and the circumstances surrounding that were awful. I couldn’t seem to shake off the “blues,” and so John suggested going to church, and I hadn’t thought of that at all. The only church I knew was the Catholic Church, and John didn’t really care where we went, as long as I didn’t ask him to become a Catholic. So we started going to Sunday Mass occasionally in September, 1989.

John Riddle

Around late November, I heard about Medjugorje from a friend who had readan article about it inher home town newspaper. When she briefly mentioned the article, I was “transported” back to a moment in 3rd grade, just after I had been transferred from a public school to a Catholic school, in the middle of the school year. That year my younger sister was diagnosed with leukemia. My mother had made a marriage vow to raise her children Catholic, and she wasn’t doing it. I think she put me in Catholic school because she thought that if she corrected that vow, then perhaps God would let my sister live; but my sister died.

I had only been in Catholic school for a few weeks when the nun told us a story about how the Blessed Mother appeared to Bernadette in Lourdes, France, in 1858. I was completely enthralled. This seemed marvelous to me. After the story was over, I wanted to go to Lourdes desperately. Wondering how I could get there, I looked out the window and thought, “Well, I know my mother won’t take me there, much less believe the story (because she was not Catholic). And the Blessed Mother won’t appear to me because I’m not nearly as good as Bernadette and she only chooses one girl—that won’t be me.” Even so, I said to myself, while thinking about Mary appearing on earth, “If that ever happens in my day, I’m going!”

I hadn’t thought about that “vow” that day until the moment I heard that Our Lady was appearing in Medjugorje. And the vow immediately flooded my mind. I was going! Somehow, someway, I just knew I was going to Medjugorje. My husband and I ended up watching some videos about Medjugorje that a priest on my mail route gave me. Wow, was I excited. Then my husband and I read every book on Medjugorje we could get our hands on. But my husband was not open to going at all, so I prayed the rosary on my fingers, since I didn’t even have a rosary.

One Sunday after Mass, in January of 1990, John found a flier about a church’s upcoming trip to Medjugorje. He said we could go! We had four months to prepare and knew we had to do so with prayer and by living the messages Our Lady was asking for.

My prayer was for God to give John “more than me” while we were in Medjugorje, so we could stay happily married, because I knew I was going to go back to the Eucharist and my Catholic faith no matter what. (I had never discussed my religion with John, since I hadn’t thought about it in many years, and he knew nothing of what the Eucharist was). I had immediately felt called when I had heard about Medjugorje to go back to receiving the Eucharist. You see, belief in the Eucharist had never left me. I had just forgotten about it. And now I had to have Jesus. I was ready to give up everything to have Him.

Our first day in Medjugorje, May 25, 1990, we went to the 10 a.m. English Mass, and afterwards, the priest, Fr. Pavich, blessed everyone’s articles. My husband John held up his camcorder and looked at me like a little kid, to see what I thought. I gave him a look of, Why not? I’d never thought about blessing a camcorder, but what did I know . . . so it was blessed . . .

At 3 p.m. on that first day, Fr. Jozo, a well-known priest connected to Medjugorje, was giving a talk in St. James Church. The church was packed. During that talk, something remarkable happened. John saw Jesus’ face on the altar, clear as day, just like we see one another. At the moment in which Fr. Jozo said “And Jesus stands before you,” it happened. And it was only through his blessed camcorder that John saw the Lord’s face. When John looked above the altar with his eyes, there was nothing. I wasn’t sitting next to John in the church, so he passed the camcorder down to me with a message of what happened, and I knew then that this was God answering my prayer to “give him more than me” . . . which actually was much more for me!

That evening our priest said we should meet and share our day with one another. I was so overwhelmed and in awe over what happened, since we were able to still see the image in the camcorder, that I stayed in my room, while John, the only non-Catholic in our group, excitedly left to meet with the others and testified to what he saw. He added, “I now know that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist.” This was a great blessing, not only for me and my marriage, but for the group and for our priest.

Many other things happened to us in Medjugorje that were enlightening and miraculous. One day during an apparition that was taking place in the church, we saw the sun spin, pulsate, and throw out many colors. At one point, three small clouds appeared with three crosses passing through them, one at a time . . . And then Our Lady appeared in the sky, plain as could be! So incredible!

During the Thursday night rosary prayer meeting that the visionary Ivan’s group has on Apparition Hill, Our Lady came, and all became so quiet. In the black of night, when I couldn’t see what was happening just a few feet in front of me, I could look over a mile or so away at Cross Mountain and see the Cross on top of it, as plain as day. It looked like it was lit up . . . and this was impossible. There was no electricity on the mountains. Things like this happened to us the entire time we were there and has happened to thousands of others! We felt as though we were not on the earth, but surrounded by something supernatural. Even climbing the hill, we felt like we were being ‘lifted’ up there.

We came back home, and John went to RCIA to learn about Catholicism. He became a Catholic the following Easter :), and we got married in the Catholic Church one year later on the same exact date we had arrived in Medjugorje: May 25, 1991. We love going to daily Mass and praying the rosary, and we try to live Our Lady’s five main messages of prayer (especially the rosary), frequent reception of the Eucharist, fasting, regular Bible reading, and monthly Confession. John became a lector, and we started making Mother Theresa rosaries, based on a story I read about them in the Catholic Digest (1991). This has become John’s exclusive ministry now. He has made over 8,380 rosaries to date, and gives them away to whomever Blessed Mother puts in our path. Many miraculous stories of physical, emotional, and spiritual healings have resulted through the years because of this rosary. But that’s another story . . .

Medjugorje has truly shown us that believing is the key to the miraculous.

Fr. Mark Beard traveled to Medjugorje as an angry skeptic . . .

The following is an interview with Fr. Mark Beard, a newly ordained priest from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, whose life changed radically on a trip to Medjugorje. His conversion began when he traveled there as an angry skeptic, intending to disprove these visionaries who must have been getting some big money out of the whole deal . . .

In Fr. Beard’s words:

King David went to the hills of Judah and said, “How is it that the Ark of the Covenant came to me?” And he danced for joy. One thousand years later, Mary came to the hills of Judah, where her cousin Elizabeth exclaimed, “How is that the Mother of Our Lord has come to me?” And John the Baptist leapt for joy in Elizabeth’s womb. That’s the Mary I now know—the archetype of our Church, the holy tabernacle that carried God Himself into the world.

But just a few years ago, I did not know Mary. So when I heard that she was appearing in Medjugorje, I didn’t want to believe it. God had sent prophets, disciples, and His only Son! So why would He be sending His mother?

At that time, my father saw me going down a path he feared I would not recover from. I was young, in my 30s, bullet-proof, and liked money, power, and “dating”—the unholy Trinity. I did avoid drugs or alcohol, but that’s because I was too busy chasing women.

My father, a powerhouse of a man, designed water plants for cities and started several companies. He was chairman of the board, and I worked under him in the family business for twenty years, earning a sizable income, flying around the world, and coming home to a nice house, a maid, and a rag-top jeep.

One day, my father said to me, “It seems that Mary’s appearing in Medjugorje. Go check it out.”

“What!?” I thought. We have litigation to deal with, jobs we’re trying to get started overseas, and you’re telling me to travel halfway around the world to check out some visionaries? Yeah, that’s what I’m gonna do. My father has lost it,” I thought. “How am I going to hide this from the shareholders, the board of directors—from my mother?”

Then I talked to my buddy John about what my dad was asking, and he said, “You should get the book, Queen of the Cosmos.” I read the whole thing while standing up in a bookstore. I couldn’t put it down.

I thought, “I’ve got to research who these visionaries are. THE Blessed Mother? I mean really. She’s talking to people on Earth? Come on, now. The whole thing struck me really hard. “Ain’t no way it’s happening. Ain’t no way.”

Yet something Jacov said in that book— about how Mary told him gently that she wasn’t happy with the way he was acting at school—nagged at me. “She’s watching?” I wondered. “She knows? If she’s aware and she knows what we’re doing, that means HE must know. Then I’m accountable for my actions . . . and I might not settle up with Him too well at the end of time!”

I thought Ben Franklin was right: God helps those who help themselves. I did my job. I figured people could worship trees and still do their job, and if they did their job right, then whatever religion they had was good enough, and all that was expected.

I was an obligatory Catholic. I’d show up for Mass, and if the priest didn’t bore me, I’d stay. I figured I hadn’t killed anybody, so I was a good enough person. I confessed my sins directly to God, a forgiving God. No need for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. And I didn’t believe in the Real Presence.

So I needed to go across the world to put this animal to bed. I needed to debunk the hubbub. Travel and money were no problem, since I’d been flying around the world for a long time due to business, so I quickly boarded a plane for Medjugorje. I ran into nothing but problems. It started when I got lost. I was supposed to meet up with my pilgrimage group in Paris, but they had already left. Don’t ask me how I ended up in Germany, but when I was there in the airport, I decided to go home. As soon as I stood up to leave, I saw a group of women wearing Mary pins. I knew that face on the pin. It was the face used to portray Mary of Medjugorje, like I’d seen in the Queen of the Cosmos book.

I was not in a good mood on this trip and was “making friends” wherever I went. I figured I made a LOT of money, so I was IMPORTANT, so I deserved to have a BIG chip on my shoulder. The people in this group finally realized I was safe to talk to, and one woman in the group said, “You don’t really believe what’s going on in Medjugorje, do you?”

“No, I don’t.”

“Lucifer picks one to make sure there are trials and tribulations.”

“Ma’am, I’m the pick of the litter.”

When I finally arrived in Medjugorje—at midnight, after untold delays, problems, and missed connections—all I had was the name of a person in the town. I didn’t know anyone, didn’t know the language, couldn’t sleep, didn’t have my luggage since it had been lost along the way, and I was there to meet six people who thought they were seeing the Blessed Virgin Mary. I probably could have lit up the entire town with my anxiety.

I sat down with my new “faux” pilgrimage group at the pension where they were staying and started to eat some soup. I wanted to be left alone. Then someone said to me, “You need to sleep down the street.”

“No, I don’t,” I said.

“Yes, you do, really.”

“No, YOU really.”

She took me in her car, stopped it several yards from my destination, and pointed to a house.

“Good,” I said, “Just drive your car right to that home.”

“No,” she said, “there are too many potholes.” So I got out of the car, and she took off. It was now 2 a.m. I started to laugh. “CNN would not believe this,” I thought. “Cajun Man from South Louisiana Ends Up Across the World Searching for Visionaries.’”

I walked up to the door of this unknown house and knocked on the door. A woman opened it, and I heard the most magical words: “You must be Mark Beard. Where have you been?”

“Ma’am, we don’t have the time.”

The next person I met was the visionary Vicka. As I stood in the crowd of onlookers watching Vicka give her talk to pilgrims, a woman next to me said, “You don’t believe, do you? You’re like Thomas.”

“I make Thomas look like the rock.”

I had to admit, though, that Vicka glowed. That woman was radiant. She described heaven, purgatory, and hell. I wanted to get the skinny on why she was doing what she was doing. Where was the book deal–the movie–the money? This must be a seven-digit deal, not a three- or four-digit one.

After Vicka’s talk, she said she would pray with everyone two by two. “Great . . . like Noah’s ark,” I thought. I wanted to catch her at her game. I figured she’d cut her losses by not praying over everyone because there wouldn’t be anything in it for her; after praying over a few people, she would have put on enough of a show. To test this, I got out of line and went to the very back. I started timing her as she prayed over each person—one minute, ten seconds; one minute, ten seconds, each time. She took a full hour to do this, and prayed for every single person who was waiting. When it was my turn, I looked at my watch the whole time—one minute, ten seconds.

The woman who’d talked to me earlier asked, “Do you believe now?”

“The jury is still out.”

“You need to meet Ivanka,” she said.

I left and scoured the town, talking to whomever would listen—cab drivers, restaurant owners, pilgrims—trying to punch holes in the charade, but I couldn’t get the goods from anyone about what was “really” going on.

By the time I met Ivanka, I had a plan. I’d memorized an interview of her in Queen of the Cosmos, in which she told the story of Mary appearing and showing her her mother, whom she was able to embrace. At one point in Ivanka’s talk, she asked if there were any questions. I decided to make a statement instead of ask a question: “I’m so sorry to hear about your mom passing away. I can’t even imagine what that must be like.” At this point everyone around me started backing away from me, probably thinking, “This man is going to die from insolence, and we don’t want to die with him.”

Then I started to reiterate what I’d read in the book, but changing slightly a couple facts here and there, and adding a few nuances, trying to catch her in a lie— because if I caught her in a lie, then I would prove that the whole thing was a sham. Coming to a close, I ended my speech with, “I just want to thank you for sharing that with us.”

Ivanka responded, which took several minutes, and then the translator began to speak in English. Ivanka had corrected every misstatement, every false innuendo, every supposition I had made—and she did so like a mother to a child.

“Oh my God,” I thought. “That woman is telling the truth.”

I went to a pay phone and called my father. “Chief,” I said to him, they’re telling the truth. They’re living it. The whole town is living it. If they were lying, they’d be giving up their children’s inheritance, their children’s future . . . because if they were making this all up and someone found out, the whole town would consider them anathema, and they’d be left all alone. The risk is too great. There’s no money. No deal. No women. They’ve got nothing. Only God.

I went to Confession for the first time in years. And toward the end of the trip, I found myself sharing my heart with another pilgrim, an honest, kind, prayerful man–a former Protestant pastor, who had sacrificed a lot to become a Catholic. He said to me spontaneously, “There’s something I need to tell you.”

“If it makes you happy . . .”

“Are you sure you’re not supposed to be a priest?”

Obviously, the story didn’t end there . . .

Woman’s dramatic visit to Medjugorje during the height of the Serbian Croatian War

Flaget Nally visited Medjugorje in 1992, during the height of war, and even then, amidst the sound of bombs, and watching refugees running–fleeing for their lives– into Medjugorje from nearby Mostar, having lost their homes and family, even then,  she said, Medjugorje was raining down grace. In the midst of war, it still remained the most peaceful place she’d ever experienced on earth. Click here to listen to her dramatic 6-minute testimony.