Diary of the beginning
These are the reports of the six witnesses, who have not only been tested and examined, but have sworn under oath the veracity of their experiences with Mary, known affectionately as "Gospa."
On June 24, 1981, six youth—Ivanka Ivanković, Mirjana Dragićević, Vicka Ivanković, Ivan Dragićević, Ivan Ivanković and Milka Pavlović—reported seeing what they described as "an incredibly beautiful young woman with a little child in her arms." Though she didn't speak, she gestured them nearer. They immediately recognized this to be a visit from Mary, the mother of Jesus.
The following day the group decided to return to the site of the previous day's visitation, the area of Crnica hill known as Podbrdo, at the same time of day, 6:00 p.m. Following a flash of light, they looked up and saw her again, this time without the child. The children approached and dropped to their knees in prayer. After the prayer she began to speak with the children. This event was agreed to be "indescribable" by those present.
On this particular day, two of the children from the previous day, Ivan Ivanković and Milka Pavlović, were not with them but were replaced by two others: Marija Pavlović and Jakov Čolo. This group of six from the second day of visitation report that Mary regularly appears to them. Milka Pavlović and Ivan Ivanković, from the first day, have reported only sporadic visitations since that time.
Having been told that she would come again the next day, the children set off to Podbrdo, again at 6:00 in the evening. While still in route, they saw a light flash three times and Mary again appeared. She suddenly disappeared, but reappeared as the group began to pray. Having been advised to bring holy water "to make sure that it was not of Satan," Vicka splashed it in the direction of the vision saying, “If you are Our Blessed Mother, please stay, and if you are not, go away from us." When Mirjana asked her name, she replied, “I am the Blessed Virgin Mary." As they descended the hill, Mary appeared one more time, saying, “Peace, peace, peace and only peace. Peace must reign between man and God, and between all people!”
Mary appeared three times to the children on the fourth day. This time, the children felt free to converse freely, asking many questions and receiving advice and guidance in return. By this time, the visionaries had begun to be accused of lying and of taking drugs. Mary encouraged them with "Do not be afraid of anything."
By this time large crowds began gathering. By noon of the fifth day there were reported to be about 15,000 people. Mary came and went many times that day. At one point, the children asked her why she didn't appear in the Parish Church for everyone to see. She replied," Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe." On the same day, the Parish Priest, Fr. Jozo Zovko, examined the children on what they had seen and heard in the previous days.
The children were taken to the nearby city of Mostar for medical examinations after which they were proclaimed "healthy." The chief examining doctor reportedly stated, "The children aren't crazy, the person who brought them here must be though."
The crowds on "Apparition Hill" that day were greater than ever, and the first reported miracle occurred. Daniel Šetka had come with her parents to the site with the express purpose of healing. Mary exhorted the parents to pray, fast and believe. The child thereupon was healed.
On this day, the children were tricked into going a distance by vehicle "to be able to stroll in peace." However, while traveling they didn't fell right and demanded to be let out of the car. Immediately, Mary drew near to them from the direction of Podbrdo, which by this time was over a kilometer away. This gave them confidence in continued visitations, no matter the location.
Soon following, the police began to hinder the children and pilgrims enroute to Podbrdo; eventually attendance at this site was forbidden as it was deemed a "danger." However, Mary continued to appear to them in secret places, in their homes and in the fields.
Since they could no longer visit Apparition Hill, as it had come to be called, the Parish Priest began to host the pilgrims in the Church, enabling them to participate in the rosary and to celebrate the Eucharist. At times the children received visitations there. Though the priest's original motivation had been purely of kindness rather than belief, he eventually became their defender after having experienced a visitation himself. He testified his support of the apparitions, even to the point of serving a prison sentence.
Beginning in January 1982, the children utilized a closed off area of the Parish Church for safety reasons. In April 1985 the Diocesan Bishop stepped in and prohibited the church's use, so the children began to gather in a room in the Parish house.
From the original visitation until today, there have only been five days when none of the children saw Mary. She has not, however, limited her visitations according to locations or people gathered. The length of the visits has also varied, from minutes to an hour.
The apparitions in Medjugorje have appeared in various places in or near the city, to people of different age, stature, race, education and walks of life. They have occurred at previously specified times, or unexpectedly. This has led the faithful to believe that the apparitions are not a product of the imagination but real visits.
The six visionaries who gathered on the second day of visitation are now adults. They have continued to daily communicate with Mary, following the guidance and messages they receive from her.