Located in the heart of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), former Yugoslavia,
Medjugorje is nestled between two hills, Krizevac and Podbrdo. It is home to the parish of St. James which serves the villages of Medjugorje ( Međugorje ), Sivrici ( Sivrići ), Bijakovici ( Bijakovići ), Vionica, Miletina and Surmanci ( Šurmanci ). The name “Medjugorje” in Croatian means “between the mountains”. Until the early 1990s, most families survived by raising livestock, growing tobacco and cultivating grapes for wine.
They lived in a state of political repression under the Communist regime of Tito, which began to fall after Tito’s death in 1980. As the socialist party slowly disintegrated, Medjugorje drew international attention when six children claimed to see Our Lady and began giving messages to the world from “Our Lady, the Queen of Peace”. In 1981, the parish of Saint James was in the hands of a Franciscan priest named Fr. Jozo Zovko. For the first 10 years of the apparitions there was a silent battle waged in Medjugorje between those loyal to the Communist party and avid Catholics. According to the children, Our Lady called for “peace among all men”.
In response to the Socialist government of the past, 1990 ushered in a new government in Bosnia and Herzegovina when it installed a coalition government made up of the three largest ethnic groups: the Bosniak Party of Democratic Action, the Serbian Democratic Party and the Croatian Democratic Union. This government aimed to serve as a democratic alternative to socialist power. In October of 1991, BiH declared its sovereignty from Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, thus the Bosnian war began in March of 1992 and lasted until November of 1995.
Medjugorje was miraculously protected from any damage during the war, although the neighboring villages were destroyed.
Since 1995, life has taken on a different tone and pace with millions of people from around the world making pilgrimages to Medjugorje. Today pansions (for accomodating visitors) and restaurants line the streets, providing work for those who remained in the country during the war.