The feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the parish of Medjugorje was permeated with a unique and exceptional spiritual atmosphere. The multitude of faithful prepared itself for that feast day with a strict nine-day fast and long recollected prayer. The main idea of the highly attended devotional novena was to draw closer to the Immaculate Virgin with a heart as pure as possible.
In the first days of the apparitions, we really competed with each other, seeing who could pray more rosaries each day. That was unhealthy competition. Although Our Lady was exhorting us to pray not that way, but with our hearts, we did not understand what it meant to pray with the heart. That night she said to us, "This evening, before you start praying, you should all forgive one another." We thought, "That's something simple, we do that in every Holy Mass!" But by no means was it easy; it was quite an effort. It meant that everyone who had built up hostilities within his heart had to give them to God immediately with love and joy. I explained what Our Lady's request meant and asked all the faithful if they understood. Everyone said yes, but no one did anything. We felt as if we were in a desert, and we were even a little afraid. Moreover, Our Lady would not allow us to pray until we had personally reconciled with each other - until we had forgiven each other from our hearts. A silence came over us; it seemed to last forever. We suffered a desert-like anguish, and it grew later and later.
Mirjana started the question and answer session by saying, "I'd like to say good morning to all of you, and I am prepared to hear everything that you have to ask me, and I am prepared to answer as much as I can."
Q: How will we know we will hear the secrets on TV, radio, shortwave, etc.?
A: You don't need to worry about this because that's the plan of God. And God through Fr. Petar will do the very best, and you will find out here also. You won't have to leave or move to another home or anything like that.
Q: Will Jakov choose a priest to whom he will confide the secrets at the time Our Lady decides?
A: I spoke with Jakov last night, and he received the tenth secret, and Our Lady told him that he would have apparitions once a year from now on, every Christmas. And that's all she told him till now, but he knows that he does need to choose a priest, and he will do that, when he stops crying.
Q: Can you describe what your last daily apparition with Our Lady was like, the one on December 25, 1982? How did you feel?
A: I am laughing at Jakov now, but I know what it was like for me, and I know that it is not easy. And I understand him. That day was the worst day of my entire life. When Our Lady told me that I would no longer have daily apparitions of her, I thought I was going to die. I thought I would go with her, and to me, that was a beautiful idea. I can tell you, for example, that I am a mother of two children, and I would give my life for my children, but when I am with Our Lady, even my children don't exist for me. The only thing that exists for me is the desire for her to take me with her. And when I understand that she has to leave, and I must stay here, it is always very difficult for me, and I always have to be alone after the apparition for an hour or two to be in prayer. That's the way it is today, but you can imagine what it was like when she told me that I would no longer see her every day.
Q: I know that Our Lady calls us to monthly confession, but I am very afraid of it and embarrassed to go. What do you suggest?
A: Nobody needs to be embarrassed before our Heavenly Father. He is the one who loves us, and He loves us with a pure love, and He is always prepared to forgive us. That's what Our Lady taught me. Because before the apparitions I used to think that God was in heaven and that He was just only in heaven and that he was just looking down at me in my sins. But Our Lady taught me that's not the way it is. Last year Our Lady said to me, "I've been with you for 16 years, and through that gift, God is showing you how much He loves you." And so nobody needs to be embarrassed to kneel before God and to say what they have done. The important thing is to feel in your heart that you're sorry for what you've done and to feel that truly with your will you desire not to do those things again, and nothing else.
Q: Mirjana, do you know if Jakov, now that he will no longer see Our Lady everyday, will he see her once a year as you and Ivanka are?
A: As I said, he will have apparitions every Christmas.
Q: Do the visionaries each have the same secrets?
A: We have never spoken among ourselves about the secrets because secrets are secrets. And so, none of us know what secrets the other one has. I can just tell you that we don't have private secrets. None of my secrets are secrets that relate only to me. The secrets are for the entire world.
Q: Please, can you give me an update on each visionary - who's married, how many children, where they are living, and also if they are working and what kind of work they are all doing?
A: And how much tax they pay annually? (Laughter) These kind of questions are very normal for us. I don't know if there are any Italians here, but Italians always ask those kinds of questions. One time an Italian woman here in America asked how much tax my husband pays!
Ivanka lives in a village near Medjugorje which is called Milatina, and she has three children. She has two sons and a daughter.
Marija is married to an Italian. I feel sorry for her. And she lives in Italy, and she has three sons.
Jakov lives in Medjugorje, and he is also married to an Italian. And whenever he speaks to Italian groups, he always says, "I know what you guys are like. I have one at home!" He has two children, a son and a daughter.
And I also live in Medjugorje, and I have two children, two daughters.
Ivan is married to an American, and I also feel sorry for him! And they live part-time in Medjugorje and part-time in the United States. And they have one daughter.
Vicka is not yet married. Jakov always jokes with her, and he says, "Nobody wants you yet!"
Q: How much longer do you expect Our Lady to continue to appear at Medjugorje?
A: I think she will appear every day until the rest of the visionaries receive the tenth secret, and those three that remain still are Vicka, Marija, and Ivan.
Q: Does Mirjana wear a scapular?
A: No, I feel more connected with St. Anthony, and I always pray through him. Rarely do I pray through Our Lady because I feel embarrassed because I think it's sufficient that I see her. And so I feel awkward asking her all these different kind of questions that people are constantly asking me. And so I normally go through St. Anthony, and he is the only saint I can talk to in this way, that if you say to him, "If you help me, I will help you." He's the only one you can speak that way with. Tuesday is the day of St. Anthony, and I always fast on that day. And there is a chaplet for him with 13 Our Fathers, Hail Mary's, and Glory Be's. And 13 kilometers from Medjugorje, we have a shrine to St. Anthony, and every June on his feast day, we all go there on foot, barefoot to his shrine.
Q: How do you pray? What kind of prayers?
A: Everyday I pray the three rosaries, the seven Our Fathers, Hail Mary's, and Glory Be's, and the prayers I need to pray for nonbelievers. And one rosary is always with the family, and that's always the Joyful Mystery because with children it is always joyful.
Q: Does the Blessed Mother look like the picture and statues we have of her? What is her voice like, is it soft?
A: I have never seen a picture or statue of Our Lady that I could say looks like Our Lady because I think it is impossible. Because it is not just an outer beauty we see; it is something that breathes from within her. It is something like a mother's beauty. And when people sometimes ask me do I have anything to compare this with, perhaps the only thing I can say to compare it to is when a mother gives birth to her child, the first time that child is placed in her arms. Our Lady's expression and face most resembles that moment. I can try to describe her, she is a little taller than me. She always has a grey dress and a white veil, except for Christmas and Easter, when she wears a gold dress. And she has long black hair, you see it here on the side of her head and on the side by her waist, which means she has long hair. She has blue eyes, and she is most beautiful. Because as I already said, it is impossible to describe the beauty that comes from within her. When we were children, we asked her children's questions. We asked her, "How is it possible you are so beautiful?" And she smiled at us, and she said, "It's because I love," and she said, "My dear children, if you desire to be beautiful, then love." And at that time when she said this, Jakov was only ten years old. And when Our Lady left, Jakov said, "I think Our Lady is not speaking the truth here." And we asked him, "How can you say Our Lady is not speaking the truth?" He said, "Look at the six of us visionaries - we could love our entire lives and we would never be beautiful!" That's why he is having apparitions for 17 years!
Q: Mirjana, can you tell us about the beginning times of the apparitions when the villagers were with you and the other visionaries? The time I am referring to is when the visionaries got to touch the Blessed Virgin, and can you tell us more about this time?
A: Yesterday, I spoke about the beginning days of the apparitions, but I didn't mention that day when Our Lady allowed us to touch her. That apparition took place in a hidden place in the village because that's the way it was in the beginning; we needed to hide from the very beginning. And Our Lady allowed all of those who were present to touch her. And suddenly, we all saw that black spots were being left on her dress, and Marija began to cry, and she said, "Don't touch her! Don't you see that you are sinful?!" And then Our Lady left. [Translator's note: Mirjana and I have a cousin in common, and our cousin was 13 years old at the time, and this cousin said, "I washed my hands well before this time!"]
Q: Has the Virgin Mary ever talked about heaven, hell, or purgatory? Where does the majority of souls go?
A: Our Lady has spoken about heaven, hell, and purgatory. One day Our Lady showed heaven, hell, and purgatory to Vicka and Jakov because those two were the only ones that were able to hide from the police that day. The rest of the four of us, the police took away that day. Then they told me that when Our Lady came that day, she said to them, "Now I will take you with me." They thought they were going to die. At that time, Jakov was also still ten years old. And Jakov's reply to that was, when he thought he was going to die, he said to Our Lady, "My dear Lady, Vicka has seven brothers and sisters, and I am an only child! Why don't you take her?" And Our Lady smiled at him, and she said, "No, I just want to show you that heaven, hell, and purgatory do exist." And so the two of them saw this.
Q: What day do you pray with the Gospa for nonbelievers - every Tuesday, or once each month, or daily?
A: I pray specifically with Our Lady for nonbelievers on the second day of each month. Myself, individually, I pray daily for them.
Q: Does Mary think the secrets will be revealed by the year 2000? Also, will this be the end of all apparitions, by 2000? Will the Triumph come by 2000, as an era of peace upon us?
A: I truly can't respond to these beautiful questions because secrets are secret. When they begin, we will see what will happen and when. I said yesterday, don't be like Fr. Petar, but you seem to be worse!
Q: Mirjana, I was in Medjugorje recently, and it had a deep impact on me. Why do you think so many get converted there? After all, Our Lord and Our Lady are also present in our churches here. P.S. What do you think of Chicago? Have you seen any of our city?
A: I'll start from the beginning. It's true that Our Lady and Our Lord are present in all the churches of the world. Our Lady says, "Open your hearts and call to me, and I'll be with you." She doesn't say that just to us visionaries; she says that to all of her children. And now I want to tell you my personal opinion, that those who come to Medjugorje, that they are invited there by Our Lady. I'll take the Americans here, for example - who among you would leave your family and home and go on such a long way if you weren't invited to do so by Our Lady? Why would you do that if it was only because somebody told you about Medjugorje, if it was just that somebody told you about a little village somewhere in Bosnia-Herzegovina? I think it is Our Lady who places the call in our hearts to come, and many people who do go there suffer a lot, and they don't know what's waiting for them, but they're prepared to undertake everything for Our Lady. And that is why I think there are so many conversions and so many graces. Simply said, pilgrimages are necessary to recharge our batteries. I have already been to Chicago a couple times, and only last night for an hour was I able to actually see something. Thanks to Ann; she was a good tour guide.
Q: Did Our Lady say that Medjugorje is the last time she will appear on earth?
A: Our Lady never said it that way. People that want to create sensationalism say that because they pick and choose the things that they like. What Our Lady said was that, "this is the last time I will be on earth in this way." She said clearly that in this way, this is the last time she will be on earth. And through my own prayer, I came to think what she meant was that this is the last time that she will be for this long of a period of time and with this many visionaries, not that she will never come to earth again.
Q: Mirjana, thank you for coming, God bless you. What can I do to best help in the conversion of my husband and others to believe in the teachings of the Catholic Church and the benefits of Mary in our lives?
A: First, thank you for the blessing and the welcome. First of all, the best thing that you can do is to give an example and to pray, and don't criticize and don't give lectures. But very simply to pray and live an example and to place the lives of those dear to us who are unbelievers into the hands of Our Lady. That is where they are most secure. I always say, "My dear Lady, I will pray, but you pray to your Son that He does something." We can all say the same thing.
Q: Will you tell us abut heaven and purgatory?
A: I do not want to speak about that because I didn't see it with my own eyes. Because it's different to tell what you heard from someone than to talk about what you experienced yourself. So better when you come to Medjugorje that Jakov and Vicka can tell you about it.
Q: It is widely believed that the ten secrets that you yourself have received are of such severity that Our Lady now comes to you at special times to help you cope with the immense responsibility. Other past apparent apparitions throughout the world speak of purification, warning, and chastisements, yet I have heard both you and Ivan speak against the idea of natural or supernatural impending disasters. Why the difference between your reaction to these two scenarios?
A: I don't know where it is that people are getting the idea that the ten secrets are so horrible because we never said that they're beautiful or that they're horrible. Those are private conclusions that people make. Our Lady has not come to me the second day of every month to comfort me. She has come to me to pray for her children who have not yet experienced the love of God. But she said to me that the thing that will comfort me is the rosary, but not that every time I need comforting that she will comfort me. And I don't know why that should be so.
Q: How has the war affected the people of different faiths living in Medjugorje? Do they still live in peace and harmony?
A: In Medjugorje, there really are not people of different faiths. We are all Catholics there, and it has always been that way. And so even now we do live in peace and harmony.
Q: I am trying to be better at the call to fast because I think God has blessed me with good health and an excellent appetite, but it's hard to resist and be faithful. Do you have any secrets for success? Please pray for me to endure.
A: I can tell you about my individual opinion because Our Lady said to me, just like she said to all of you, that on Wednesdays and Fridays we must fast on bread and water. It's not a difficult thing for me to do because I know why I am doing that. Through this act I am showing God that I love Him and that I am prepared to do something for Him, but not just ask things of Him. Because in my heart, I feel a great thankfulness for every little thing in my life. For example, this morning I was able to wake up on my own two feet and that is a gift, thanks be to God. Because we don't see these little, minute things until something horrible happens to us. And so in my heart, I desire to say a thank-you to God. I think it's not a lot that Our Lady asks us to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays on bread and water. And on Wednesdays and Fridays, I find I can pray better, maybe because I suffer more.
Q: How will we find out when the ten secrets are revealed to the priest?
A: As I said, you don't have to worry about anything, you'll know everything. As you can see, women can't keep secrets!
Q: Instead of bread and water when I fast, I fast on coffee only. It keeps me more alert, especially when driving. Would this offend Our Mother?
A: I don't understand this. I can't judge. I am not the one who can what we need to do. I can only report that what Our Lady says. She says bread and water. She didn't mention coffee. But as I said yesterday, maybe you should take it earlier, before Our Lady wakes up!
Q: Has Our Lady given any indication that she will leave a sign or miracle at Medjugorje as she did at Fatima?
A: Yes, Our Lady will leave a sign at the Hill of Apparitions, and everybody will see that she was truly present there and that it's something from God. And the sign will be something that when you see it, it will be clear that it could not have been created by human hands. But you won't see it from America, you'll have to come there to see it. Pilgrims from the United States often ask me if we will be able to see it from home or will we have to go there to see it.
Q: Has Mary ever said anything on how we can overcome human pride?
A: Through fasting and prayer. Only in that way will we truly understand what is most important in life. Because in life we do have all the good material things of life, but if we don't have Jesus in our hearts, then we don't have anything. Because Jesus is the one who gives us peace, and if we have Jesus in our hearts, then we have peace. And in that way, we can then know how to judge what is good and what is bad and how we are to be better. Only through Jesus.
That's the last of the questions. I want to thank you for everything. Thank you for a beautiful welcome, and I want to tell you that I truly felt very good here. Thank you for this. Today I am going back to Medjugorje, and I will bring all of you back with me. I will pray to Our Lady that she may help you because I know that each one of us is carrying a cross in our lives. And I will pray to Our Lady that she not leave you alone in your crosses.
Several miraculous healings have taken place associated with Medjugorje. While large numbers have gone to Medjugorje seeking cures, the number of cures seems mysteriously low. Some have the suspicion that once the sign takes place that all who have visited Medjugorje seeking a cure, will be healed. The interview below gives merit to this thought. According to Vicka, many will be healed when the sign appears.