A very intriguing apparition sets the back drop to what will follow in the testing of the visionaries through the coming years—when science takes a close look at these six individuals to examine their experience. Many come with the expectation that their tests will disprove the testimony of the visionaries. Most interesting is how Our Lady, Herself, responds to the testing of Her chosen visionaries. And from Her response, we are given greater insight into God’s thoughts concerning the “debate” between science and faith.
On the sixth day of the apparitions, June 29, 1981, the first recorded encounter with Our Lady and a doctor is relayed; it is not known what kind of doctor she was. Dr. Darinka Glamuzina worked for the atheistic government. (1) She climbed Apparition Mountain with thousands of others on this day, to be present when the visionaries entered into ecstasy. She approached Vicka and asked if she could touch the apparition. Following is the description Vicka gives of that encounter to Fr. Janko Bubalo.
Janko: What’s that all about
Vicka: Well, at the time there was a lady doctor at Podbrdo also
Vicka: She wanted to touch the Virgin
Janko: What then?
Vicka: We asked the Virgin, and the Virgin said: “There were always unfaithful Judases, but she can. Let her approach.”
Janko: And then?
Vicka: The doctor approached and touched the Virgin.
Janko: How did she know where to touch, since she could not see the Virgin?
Vicka: I directed her.
Janko: And she really touched the Virgin?
Vicka: Really, certainly!
Janko: And where did she touch her?
Vicka: On the left shoulder. That was most convenient.
Janko: And what did the doctor do?
Vicka: What! She stepped back, and who knows what she was thinking within.
Janko: Did she say anything?
Vicka: She said nothing in front of the people. Later she stopped at our house and before all declared that when she touched her she
felt some sort of tingling through her hand, but she didn’t say anything else.
Janko: Did she ever come again to the apparitions?
Vicka: I never saw her again. But, you know how that is with that sort. You’re intelligent… (2)
The message Our Lady gave to Vicka, “…There have always been unfaithful Judases…” (3) seems harsh to Our Lady’s normal way of love, but then, we do not know what was in the heart of the doctor, and perhaps Our Lady gave these strong words to challenge the doctor’s communist atheism in some way. Nevertheless, Our Lady not only allowed the doctor to approach and touch Her, but the doctor was given a physical sign that the visionaries were truly seeing something. It made enough of an impression on her that she sought Vicka out and then publicly stated that she had experienced something that she could not explain that obviously unsettled her.
This could have been any person, any pilgrim, but the fact that it was a doctor and Our Lady’s reply is what makes the exchange interesting. In 1981, Our Lady was fully aware of where the world was headed. She said eight months after She first began appearing in answer to a question of why there were apparitions in other parts of Herzegovina as well:
January 21, 1982
“My children, don’t you see that the faith begins to extinguish itself and that it is necessary to awaken the faith among men?”
In fact, the same day she allowed Dr. Glamuzina to touch her, Our Lady’s other exchanges with the visionaries were all about “faith” and “believing” in response to their questions of what She expected of them. The contrast between the disbelieving doctor and Our Lady’s strong words to have faith is striking. The following is taken from Words from Heaven:( 4)
June 29, 1981
The visionaries wanted to know if the Gospa was happy to see so many people present.
“More than happy.”
They ask, “How long will You stay?”
“As long as you will want me to, my angels.”
They questioned Our Lady about Her expectations about those who came despite the heat and the brambles.
“There is only one God, one faith. Let the people believe firmly and do not fear anything.”
“What do you expect of us?” the visionaries inquired.
“That you have a solid faith and that you maintain confidence.”
The visionaries wanted to know if they would be strong enough to endure persecutions because of the apparitions. Pressures and persecutions were severe.
“You will be able to, my angels. Do not fear. You will be able to endure everything. You must believe and have confidence in me.”
At this point, Doctor Darinka Glamuzina, working for the Government, requests Vicka to ask a question for her: “May I touch Our Lady?”
“There have always been unfaithful Judases who don’t believe, but she can approach.”
Vicka shows Dr. Glamuzina where to extend her hand and Dr. Glamuzina touches the Gospa. The doctor withdrew, humbled, with the fear of God.
The parents of a handicapped child ask the visionaries to intercede on behalf of the child. They ask the Virgin to cure the child so that people will believe them.
“Have them believe strongly in his cure. Go in the peace of God.”
The child was cured later that evening.
In all Our Lady’s responses, She speaks about faith, or lack of faith when speaking of the doctor. Interestingly, Our Lady ends with the parents of an ill child who come asking for their child’s healing, and it is granted. A healing that is scientifically unexplainable. This too, points back to the atheist or unbelieving doctor who represents here the unbelieving, rationalistic world in which man arrogantly believes he holds all the answers and has no need for God.
This very intriguing apparition sets the back drop to what will follow in the testing of the visionaries through the coming years, when science takes a close look at these six individuals to examine their experience. Many come with the expectation that their tests will disprove the testimony of the visionaries. Most interesting is how Our Lady, Herself, responds to the testing of Her chosen visionaries. And from Her response, we are given greater insight into God’s thoughts concerning the “debate” between science and faith.
In the years 1982-1983, Dr. Ludvik Stopar, a psychiatrist and parapsychologist from Slovenia, who became interested in the apparitions came to Medjugorje, undercover, and was the first doctor to examine the visionaries in ecstasy. The length of each apparition was between 3-10 minutes long. (5) This is significant in that this was the very beginning of what would become an endless trail of scientists leading to the visionaries. And as the testing continued, the length of the apparitions shortened. By 1985, during the apparitions in which testing was taking place with the visionaries, the length of the apparition was dramatically shortened to only 45 seconds. An indication, perhaps, of Our Lady saying “enough is enough.” Fr. Rene Laurentin, a highly regarded theologian from France, who was very involved with the testing of the visionaries, commented about this fact:
“Interestingly enough, while the tests were being done, the ecstasies which until then had averaged two minutes each went down to forty-five seconds.” (6)
When the series of tests were completed, the very first apparition after the tests lasted for six minutes. This observation along with the fact Our Lady questioned the necessity of the tests in the apparition gave concern to those allowing the testing.
“The Madonna appears to have asked, both about the French and the Italian tests, “Is all this really necessary?” Perhaps it was this that made Fr. Slavko finally decide, when the Italians had gone home, that enough was enough. There were to be no more instrumental tests during the ecstasies, unless they were deemed absolutely vital by the doctors concerned.” (7)
On March 23, 1983, Dr. Mario Botta, a heart surgeon from Milan, who had come with a team of doctors, had a series of tests that he wanted to perform on the visionaries. However, he completed only one, and because what Our Lady said in the apparition that day, decided against continuing with his testing. Before the apparition, Ivan was hooked to a monitor in which electrodes were attached to his chest. When the apparition ended, the visionaries stood up and said:
‘The Virgin smiled at seeing him (Ivan) in (the) harness. We asked Her what She thought. She answered: “It is not necessary.” (8)
Fr. Rene Laurentin, who was present that day at the apparition, described Dr. Botta as being “extremely attentive to the negative side of this statement, ‘Not necessary’. (9) Both Fr. Laurentin and Fr. Vlasic did not take the statement from Our Lady as a denouncement of the testing, but rather She was emphasizing a point that prayer is what is essential. Everything else is inconsequential. But Dr. Botta was not reassured and deciding to error on the side of caution, he discontinued his testing. He left Medjugorje, having completed only one test. Even so, Dr. Botta had seen enough with his one and only clinical test to confirm his judgment that the apparitions of the Virgin ‘transcend physiological reality, that is they leave it untouched’ (10), in other words, while the visionaries are in ecstasy, though their physiological make-up continues to function without interruption, they somehow rise above what would be normal reactions in any other human being.
Our Lady’s words spoken in this apparition would have future ramifications upon other scientists as well. One year later, a very important team of doctors from France committed to a very exhaustive examination of the visionaries. This series of tests was requested by Fr. Rene Laurentin because of the urgency he felt that this take place before the apparitions ended, especially in light of Our Lady telling the Medjugorje visionaries that these would be the last apparitions on earth. Never again will Our Lady come in apparitions in which visionaries will be able to see, hear, touch and talk to Our Lady. (11) This does not exclude some illumination given to a nun in a convent or what a person may experience in prayer, but it is absolutely clear that the Guadalupe, Lourdes, Fatima and Medjugorje-type apparitions will no longer occur on earth after the Medjugorje apparitions end. Because of this, Fr. Laurentin felt it was essential to have the visionaries tested with every kind of test that modern science had to offer. There was much discussion and planning that went on before they actually traveled to Medjugorje not to mention all that was involved in getting their expensive equipment to the village. On June 9, 1984, they arrived to attend the apparition that evening. But when they approached the visionaries to seek their cooperation in the testing, the visionaries refused. Marija, Ivanka and Jakov were the only ones present that evening, but they were solid in their refusal, with Jakov being the spokesman for them all. When questioned why they would not cooperate, Jakov simply stated that Our Lady had said these tests were “not necessary” (12) and reminded them that Dr. Botta did not continue his tests after Our Lady spoke these words! Fr. Laurentin and Professor Joyeux argued with them as to the importance of these tests in convincing non-believers of the validity of the visionaries’ testimony. Fr. Laurentin explained their arguments:
“It is not necessary for you or for those who believe but it is useful for those who do not believe and even for the Bishop who seems to think that we may be dealing with an hallucination or even a dream. The electro-encephalogram will eliminate these doubts one way or another. If you refuse this test then it would appear that you are afraid of the outcome. The Virgin has told you that at the end of the apparitions she will give you a visible sign that may not be needed by believers but will be useful for non-believers. Our tests have exactly the same end.” (13)
Finally, Jakov came up with a solution. He said that they would ask Our Lady this evening in the apparition. However, after being so adamant, those involved in the testing did not have much hope for a positive answer. When the apparition ended that evening, Jakov astonished everyone, when, smiling, he informed them that Our Lady had given them permission. According to Jakov, when he asked the question, Our Lady said:
“You did well to ask. You can go ahead.” (14)
|The apparition of June 10, 1984. Professor Joyeaux arrived in the Medjugorje the day before, only to discover that the visionaries were refusing to be tested. Despite Fr. Laurentin & Professor Joyeaux’s persuasive arguments to convince them to cooperate, they were adamant due to Our Lady saying on another occasion that the tests were not necessary. Jakov settled the debate by suggesting they ask Our Lady in the apparition. To everyone’s surprise, Our Lady gave them permission.|
In a recent interview with Professor Joyeux, he reflects upon the circumstances he found himself more than 20 years ago, when he, an important professor from a distinguished university in France, traveled thousands of miles with expensive equipment to arrive in Medjugorje only to be refused by three teenagers their cooperation. He stated:
“At first I thought that they were refusing the tests because they were afraid of science. And our conclusion could have easily been: refusal of scientific research is an indication of fraud. While we were stubbornly insisting on examination, the youngest seer Jakov found a way out. He said: ‘We shall ask Our Lady.’ I thought it was just another way to evade testing, but we were allowed to be present at the phenomenon of ecstasy and when it was over, the visionaries got up and told the parish priest: ‘Well, we asked Our Lady and she said: Children, it is good that you have asked, go and do it.’ So we got the green light for the test not from those who were having the apparitions, but from the very person who appears. Incredible! After that, those young people were completely transformed, they accepted all that we asked them to do so humbly. I was deeply impressed by this.” (15)
Incredibly, it was Our Lady who saved the day. Had She said don’t do the tests to the visionaries, there is no question that the doctors would have left Medjugorje empty handed. Fr. Laurentin said, “(Jakov’s) refusal had been so adamant that we did not hold out much hope for the answer. He did not seem disposed to changing his mind. It appeared that the answer could only be in the negative.” (16) And as Professor Joyeux pointed out, quite possibly they would have judged the resistance given by the visionaries as evidence of fraud. There, apparently then, was a good purpose in allowing the testing to take place. The fact that the visionaries were so cooperative after it was settled that Our Lady allowed them to participate was also indicative of Our Lady’s encouraging them to cooperate. At the same time, it is interesting the doctors had to wait to receive permission from Our Lady herself before they could proceed. They, in a real sense, were at Her mercy. This is what deeply impressed Prof. Joyeux, just as he said. But if Our Lady was going to agree, all along, for the testing to take place, why did She allow the doctors to go through such suspense before permission was given? Why did She “set up” the visionaries when She spoke the words “It is not necessary” with the testing of Dr. Botta, which is what made the visionaries so obstinate in the first place about not participating? What message, behind the words, was She giving to not only the doctors, but to the world?
Another interesting episode took place several months later, October 6-7, 1984, when Prof. Joyeux returned again with his team and more tests for the visionaries. This time, it was Ivanka who protested, being very exasperated with the frequent demands being put on the visionaries.
‘We have recently refused other doctors who wanted to do tests; it would be contrary to our prayers. If we accept, there will be no end. You already have one electro-encephalogram, you want to do another today; then you will want to do others. And now still further tests. Where will it all end? We are not guinea pigs!’ (17)
|On October 7, 1984, after initially resisting the testing, Ivanka is hooked up to an electro-encephalogram in order to study her brain waves before, during and after the apparition. Along with this test, they studied whether putting an object in front of her eyes would hamper her vision in the apparition. She continued to see Our Lady despite the obstacle.|
Fr. Laurentin and Professor Joyeux, again, pressed her to accept, reminding her that Our Lady had encouraged them to do the testing last June. They ended up convincing Ivanka to ask Our Lady again, in the apparition, hoping for a similar response from the Queen. Our Lady, however, did not encourage or discourage the visionaries this time. Ivanka explained after the apparition, ‘The Virgin said to us, ‘It is up to you to decide.’” (18) From this moment on, it was understood by the visionaries that the decision to cooperate or not was in their hands to decide.
The French doctors were relieved when Ivanka had a change of heart, and allowed the testing to continue. Again, however, they were subjected to the frustration of having their agenda hanging in the balance. And then, too, Our Lady took a different stance, not giving Her blessing to the project, but giving freedom to the visionaries to decide on their own. From the point of view of the scientists, these tests were very important in gaining understanding of the phenomenon of “ecstasy”. And for those who believed Our Lady was appearing, they hoped the test results would lead nonbelievers to faith in the apparitions. Of course, had Our Lady once again told the visionaries to participate, they would have complied happily. The fact that She left the decision up to each of them, also confirmed that there was no danger in them participating in the testing and that it wouldn’t displease Her if they did or did not.
When the team of Italian doctors came in 1985, for yet again, a whole series of testing in which the visionaries were hooked up to different pieces of equipment with wires everywhere, in one of the apparitions, Our Lady again said, “Is this really necessary?” (19) At that point, Fr. Slavko called a halt to future testing, saying enough is enough. (20) Looking at these remarks from Our Lady, they suggest that the testing is not so important as what man believes it to be. She does not take the freedom away from the doctors by telling them to stop or telling the visionaries not to participate. Her words imply, however, almost a disinterest in the testing. And when looking at all the data of all the years the visionaries were tested, all that is ever concluded is that the visionaries come out normal in every aspect of human functioning. Fr. Robert Faricy, a respected Jesuit teacher at the Pontifical University in Rome and author of several books on Medjugorje, was visiting Marija on January 5, 1986, and saw the arrival of yet another medical commission to her home. He described a conversation with Marija before the testing got underway, in his book, Medjugorje Journal:
“As I was speaking to Marija in the kitchen of her home, the medical commission arrived. I asked Marija what they would do. She said: ‘Psychiatric examinations.’ And she added: ‘Our Lady has told us that the medical and psychological examinations do not serve any useful purpose.’ So I asked: ‘Then why do you let them do it?’ She just shrugged helplessly.”
|Marija accepts good-naturedly the inconvenience of having to be attached to this mechanism during the anniversary apparition in June 2005. However, she admits being a little tired of all the testing. If people weren’t convinced before, what will one more test prove, even if it validates the results of all the other tests before it, that they are indeed, normal?|
In June 2005, Marija and Ivan were asked to undergo the latest scientific testing in Medjugorje. Once again, Marija was asked what she thought about it all. She answered:
“Our Lady did not mind the tests at all. She neither forbids them nor advises participation in them. We have a total freedom in everything, so too in this matter. It is up to us to decide shall we participate in the tests or not. I just hope that, through them, we shall bring more hearts closer to Our Lady. That’s why I agreed to do it. But I have to say that I am a bit tired of all these researches. I just wonder what else do people need in order to accept the truth.” (21)
Ivan has shared his frustration with the demands made on them from the testing in an interview he gave in the early 1990’s.
Q. Ivan, do you have any information about the commission established by Rome to study and decide the authenticity of these apparitions in Medjugorje?
Ivan: The medical section of the first and second commissions have finished their work.
Q. What is their conclusion?
Ivan: Both commissions have concluded that all six of us are healthy. But we knew that before they started. We submitted to their investigations because we wanted to prove to the world that we are normal.
Q. Were the tests difficult?
Ivan: They worked on us for five years. I had one hundred forty tests. Thirteen doctors came to Medjugorje to thank us for our cooperation after they concluded their investigations. There is not one hair on my head that they did not test. When they were thanking us, I asked them, “Now can we investigate you?”
Q. What did they say?
Ivan: They didn’t respond. (22)
On the 24th anniversary of Our Lady’s apparitions, the Vatican itself had requested more testing. Ivan was not happy that it had to take place on this special feast day.
|Ivan arrives for the apparition on the 24th anniversary of Our Lady’s appearances. Seeing the apparatus he was asked to put on, on a hot day, dressed in suit and tie, on this day of all days of the year, it is no wonder he was a little irritated. However, yet again, Prof. Joyeaux was persuasive in that these tests were specifically requested by the Vatican. One can only imagine what Our Lady thought when She saw Ivan on this day, 24 years from the beginning of the apparitions, after so much testing through the years, only to come up with the very same conclusion: the visionaries are normal in every respect and science cannot explain their experience. Professor Joyeaux, though only a scientist, sends a strong recommendation to the Church, “Medjugorje must be taken seriously.”|
“They put devices on our heads like nets and test us before, during and after the apparition. I objected a little! Why do the tests have to take place on the very anniversary of the apparition? But they succeeded in persuading me that it was very important for them to do it on that very day. I accepted this test only because it was the Church who asked for it. Otherwise, I really don’t like to be a guinea pig!” (23)
Another interesting fact that is very revealing is that the scientists actually designed a test that needed the assistance of the Virgin Mary to participate in. Since the visionaries testified that they could touch Our Lady, the doctors asked them to hold the hands of Our Lady during the apparition. Taking photographs, they could judge where Our Lady’s hands were in the apparition, and perhaps this information would generate new thoughts on how to test in the area of “touch.” Jakov agreed to participate in this test, though he had refused all other tests. On June 10, 1984, he went into ecstasy, but then forgot what he was asked to do. At a certain moment, he remembered, but just as he began to ask Our Lady, She disappeared suddenly. Jakov came out of ecstasy with a confused look on his face. He said:
‘I had forgotten. And at the very time I was going to ask her the question, she disappeared.’ (24)
Several months later, both Ivanka and Marija, on 7 October, were to follow through with this test. But when they asked Our Lady in the apparition, She would not agree to it. (25) And with that very definite refusal, Our Lady drew a line, so to speak, between what is allowable and what is not. For those who understand Our Lady and the apparitions, they would have known Our Lady would not cooperate with such a test. Our Lady does not lower Herself to circus acts. There is a line one should never cross with Our Lady’s apparitions. It is out of character for Our Lady to comply with such a request. At the same time, Our Lady has touched and been touched but this was not a performance, but allowed for the purpose of reaching a heart.
Again, it is the Queen who takes command of the situation, allowing Her instruments, the Medjugorje visionaries, to humbly submit to the testing—only up to a point, until she gives them the freedom to decide, but as the Queen, God does not allow Our Lady to be placed in the position of a guinea pig.
Our Lady has asked much from Her visionaries, and She knows what is important to their spiritual growth and certainly She is concerned that Her plan for the salvation of the world succeed, but apparently, She has not found that all this testing is necessary for that plan to be realized. On March 8, 1985, Dr. Frigerio from Italy was present to do a test on Vicka’s larynx during the apparition. A laryngophone was attached to Vicka, the function of which records what is spoken at a level below that which can be heard audibly. It is interesting to note what took place in the apparition. For only a moment the laryngophone functioned, but then stopped. The apparition lasted only 22 seconds, a very short apparition. Our Lady greeted Vicka with “May God be praised’ and Vicka responded back, “May He be praised.” This sentence spoken by Vicka was recorded by the equipment. But then Our Lady said, while looking that the apparatus attached to Vicka, “It is not necessary.” She immediately left. Our Lady did not appear annoyed, and She was smiling as She spoke, but She did leave abruptly which was unusual.26 The next day, Ivan was undergoing a test of the functioning of the inner ear. When he knelt down for the apparition, the instrument fell out of his ear, making the test fail, though an eye test going on at the same time, did succeed, giving the same results from this test done by the French team a year ago. (27)
Lastly, one other interesting fact that took place during the testing is that Our Lady gave one of the secrets while the visionaries were being monitored. This is interesting because Our Lady could have given this information on any day of Her choosing. The fact that She gave it while the visionaries reactions were being monitored, seems to suggest that She desired the results of that testing to be looked at carefully. Jakov was the visionary being monitored, and when Our Lady revealed to him one of the secrets, he stopped breathing for a 10 full seconds. (28)
What conclusions can be drawn from Our Lady’s words and actions having to do specifically with the scientific testing upon the visionaries? She accepted, with reservation, the good will of those involved in the testing. Our Lady is always gracious. But at a certain point, Her words and actions seemed to discourage the visionaries’ participation. Ultimately, science cannot answer the question, “Are the visionaries really seeing the Virgin Mary?” It is a question of faith, and though the science can support the conclusion that “yes” they are, for those who do not want to believe, the testing results can be manipulated to fit a negative view or ignored altogether. Why does Our Lady say, “It is not necessary”? Because for those who are open to God, who seek their answer from Him, God will not deny the truth. Our Lady gave a message on April 17 1986:
“Dear children, you are absorbed with material things, but in the material you lose everything that God wishes to give you. I call you, dear children, to pray for the gifts of the Holy Spirit which are necessary for you now in order to be able to give witness to my presence here and to all that I am giving you. Dear children, surrender to me so I can lead you completely. Don’t be absorbed with material things. Thank you for having responded to my call.”
Fr. Laurentin, in his own conclusion, stated:
“Those who are sensitive to the religious character of the apparitions deplore the indiscretion of those tests which treat the sacred as a guinea-pig. Some of the photographs in this book shock them. Perhaps this was also the first reaction of the visionaries? But the visionaries understood that these verifications, which would be useful for them and for believers, could also be useful for skeptics in good faith. These tests were also a risk, because if there was any question of cheating or if the ecstasy turned out to be a pathological phenomenon, the tests would no doubt have provided evidence of this. It was with this in view that the visionaries agreed to ask the Virgin’s permission to allow the test and it is with her consent and theirs that we proceeded with these unprecedented experiments. The tests achieved their end by excluding reductionist explanations and by confirming the likelihood of the simple and ingenuous explanation given by the visionaries: a gratuitous encounter with She who guides them and gives them an impressive message for a world in danger.” (29)
1. Words from Heaven, A Friend of Medjugorje, 10th Ed.
2. A Thousand Encounters with the Virgin Mary in Medjugorje, Fr. Janko Bubalo
3. Words from Heaven, A Friend of Medjugorje, 10th Ed.
5. Spark from Heaven, Mary Craig
8. Scientific & Medical Studies on the Apparitions at Medjugorje, René Laurentin & Henri Joyeux
11. The People’s Madonna
12. Scientific & Medical Studies on the Apparitions at Medjugorje, René Laurentin & Henri Joyeux
15. Medjugorje Tribune, Jan. 07, No. 1, Žarko Ivković
16. Scientific & Medical Studies on the Apparitions at Medjugorje, René Laurentin & Henri Joyeux
20. Spark from Heaven, Mary Craig
21. Medjugorje Tribune, Jan. 07, No. 1, p. 17, Žarko Ivković
22. Visions of the Children, Janice Connell
23. Medjugorje Tribune, Jan 07, No. 1, p. 19, Žarko Ivković
24. Scientific & Medical Studies on the Apparitions at Medjugorje, René Laurentin & Henri Joyeux
28. Spark from Heaven, Mary Craig
29. Scientific & Medical Studies on the Apparitions at Medjugorje, René Laurentin & Henri Joyeux