Before 1981, Medjugorje was a village of 3,000 inhabitants nestled between mountains.
On the highest peak, Mount Krizevac, 540 meters high, the Catholic parish had built an enormous concrete cross: it was September 14, 1933, feast of the Glorious Cross.
The residents of the village had always resisted the pressure that caused so many Croats to convert to Islam. They also resisted bravely against the atheistic regime. It was a village of "true believers."
But the people who lived in Medjugorje, which is divided into 5 different hamlets, were divided. They didn't always get along...
In Medjugorje, the reconciliation was started by the parish, on August 6, 1981, the feast of the Transfiguration. The parishioners had prepared by more than a month of intense prayer. The pastor, Fr. Jozo Zovko, described the outcome:
"For the reconciliation of the parish, we fasted for three days. After three days, the Gospa (Croatian for Our Lady) wrote the word MIR, or "peace" in English, in the sky, in fiery letters, between the mountain and the cross of the church. We saw something like a flame coming out of the big cross of Mount Krizevac. We felt paralyzed with terror. We wanted to flee the avalanche, which was approaching and setting the sky ablaze.
It was like the end of the world, but no one, I learned later, was able to think or say: 'God, forgive us.' Nobody felt able to escape this globe of fire. MIR: only the word "peace" was needed.
We understood the urgency of making peace. Father Jozo Zozko declared to the fervent and very moved assembly, still riddled by so much division and resentment:
'Tonight, before we begin to pray, each one of us must forgive his neighbor.'
The suggestion was accepted without protest. The people were ready to do anything. But a heavy silence weighed on the assembly, because it isn't easy to forgive. One must pull up some deep roots, and many were not ready yet to do that. But suddenly one of the faithful cried out:
'Lord, I have forgiven! I beg you, forgive me!'
The violent hostility he had harbored for so long now looked to him like a sin. He had just forgiven someone. Resentment had left him, and he felt a great need to be forgiven. It was the new urgency. He implored it as a conscious sinner.
After this, reconciliation flowed like a deep river in the hearts of the parishioners and reached, through the pilgrims, to the police and the government officials. The Communist rulers had first perceived the apparitions of Medjugorje like a Trojan horse, a new subterfuge of Croatian nationalism. But the constantly humble, prayerful, conciliatory and obedient attitude of the pilgrims, priests and seers, imposed clearly that there was no question of a partisan movement.
Father Rene Laurentin
Comment la Vierge Marie leur a rendu la liberté (How the Virgin Mary Gave Them Back Their Freedom),
Editions Œil 1991.