[I’m continuing to present an English version of Bp. Peric’s three-part article “The context of the Medjugorje phenomena”. This translation is based on the Italian version of the article on his diocesan website. In this portion, Bishop Peric describes the episode in which the alleged “messages from the Gospa”, written down by friar Tomislav Vlasic, spoke about the date of the Blessed Virgin’s birthday.]
Vlasic’s fantasies about the birthday of the Gospa
The Catholic Church, according to the Liber Pontificalis, has celebrated the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary since the seventh century, in the times of Pope Sergius I (687-701); and in the East, at Constantinople, several decades earlier.
According to the Chronicle of the apparitions of the parish of Medjugorje, in the “visions” – as Vlasic regularly calls them – the alleged apparition says that the 2000th birthday of the Madonna was 5 August 1984. The chaplain at the time, friar Tomislav Vlasic, sent that invention to the Pope in Rome and to Bishop Zanic in Mostar. Here is how the matter reads in the Chronicle maintained by Vlasic. But let us turn back three years to see how the nativity was celebrated and how the date changed.
Birthday greetings, 8 September 1981. There are two different official reports, from Vlasic and Laurentin. Vlasic, in the Chronicle, writes:
“Visions: the seers had the encounter with the Gospa. Little Jakov wished her a happy birthday. She was overjoyed, saying it was one of the happiest days for her. She exhorted the seers to perseverance in faith and in prayer.
R. Laurentin, “historian” of the Medjugorje phenomena, reports differently on the same event.
Birthday of the Gospa. On 8 September, the feast of the Nativity, the Virgin appears with the child Jesus, actually in Jakov’s house. Vicka is there too: she speaks familiarly, extending her hand: “Dear Gospa, I wish you a happy birthday”. The Madonna takes her offered hand, but Vicka does not dare to do the same, and Jakov, confused by her audacity, asks her not to speak about it.
But she tells it all to Laurentin, and he tells it in his book! 
8.IX.1982 (Wednesday). Mirjana and Ivica [Ivanka] are missing from the seers. The others have met. They had a vision. The Gospa was particularly solemn. The young people gave her birthday greetings. There were no particular messages.
Therefore on 8 September in 1981 and 1982 the “Gospa of Medjugorje” regularly celebrates her birthday, as the whole Catholic Church celebrates the feast of her Birth into this world. She was even visibly “overjoyed”. The following year also, the recurrence will continue to be characterized by the splendor of the solemnity and the joy of the birthday. As we see:
The Gospa’s birthday:
“8. IX. 1983 (Thursday). Four seers had a vision. They say that the Gospa was particularly solemn and happy. She did not have any special messages.”
For the Nativity of 1983, the Gospa maintained the solemn clothing of the preceding year, but there were no wishes from the “seers”. Evidently something is being prepared behind the curtain on part of the “apparition of Medjugorje” and on part of the “seers of Medjugorje” and on part of the “myth-maker” [mistificatore] Tomislav Vlasic. We can see what Vlasic writes:
The birthday of the Gospa is not the day of the Nativity, but the 5th of August, Our Lady of the Snows. Friar Tomislav writes:
“28. V. 1984 (Monday). Today father Bishop Zanic visited. He took with him the last part of the Diary of Jelena and of Marjana Vasilj. Also, he took the message of the Gospa given to Jelena for him, for the Holy Father, and for the Christian public, that the 2000th birthday of the Gospa is 5.08.1984. (See the document sent to the bishop).
Let us quickly recall that in that document of the same day, the following is written:
“She said:’ Those who feel a little love for me on that day, let them not go to school, or work, or anywhere. They should take up the rosary and recite it.”
Besides, what day was it: Sunday, and nobody had to go to school!
The Bishop rejected the message a priori; he doesn’t believe in it. He forbade me orally to talk about it, and said he would also forbid it in writing. He would make sure the message went with the other material to the Congregation.
When I asked him to understand our pastoral co-workers could not be indifferent to the messages that asked the people to convert, he said approximately this: “The Gospa is not appearing here. I don’t accept that duty… no one is obligated to believe in private apparitions….” The bishop had a thousand reasons to not believe. And no reason moved him to believe. That’s how he acted.
I asked him to have someone from the Commission interview and study the phenomena about Jelena. (Jelena has been seeing the Gospa for a year and a half and neither the bishop nor any member has spoken with her!) He gestured with his hand, saying that there are hundreds of such seers. I asked him again to speak with all the seers. since they are making great events known soon. He responded that he has nothing more to discuss with them.
Here is the solemn announcement of the Gospa’s birthday, for August 5, 1984. If therefore the 2000th birthday of the Gospa of Medjugorje was in 1984, that means that there were 16 years before the beginning of the new era, that is, B.C. She would have been about 16 years old when she brought Jesus Christ into the world. And since according to the current historical documents, the birth of Jesus took place between the 7th and 6th years B.C., that means that we have to subtract those 6-7 years from the age of the Gospa. According to this fantasy of Medjugorje, the Gospa would have to have borne a son at the age of 9 to 10 years. But the fanatics of Medjugorje are ready to believe in even more incredible inventions!
We cannot overlook the very clear and decisive attitude of the local bishop Pavao Zanic, who absolutely does not believe in the “apparitions”, who was quick to take upon himself the responsibility for what he declared, who had “a thousand reasons” to not believe, and no reason compelling him to believe in the fables of the “seers” and their myth-maker of Medjugorje. A truly courageous bishop!
But in regard to Vlasic here there is not one, but there are two points:
There is an expectation for the Church to approve the birthday of the Gospa or that Heaven will arrange for it.
14.VI.1984 (Thursday). 6. We are not proclaiming the declaration message of the 2000th birthday of the Gospa for now, as long as ecclesiastical authority does not approve it, or until Heaven provides that the day be evidently prepared.
However, ecclesiastical authority has not approved it , either then or now. Yet the apparition of Vlasic has already asked that the 2000th birthday of the Gospa be celebrated in a particular way.
The special preparation for the birthday.
27. VII. 1984. (Friday). The seers saw the vision together. There were no special messages. Ivan had the vision this evening in the place of the apparitions. The vision took place at 22:30. The Gospa said this: “I continue to wish to remain with my chosen ones in the church, to spread the Good News here through them…” (The desire of the Gospa refers to the intention of Bishop Zanic to remove the seers from the church). Be at peace in this time and do not be upset, since my son Jesus is working strongly in this parish and in the people who come here…” The Gospa, says Ivan, said that for her 2000th birthday, that is, 5 August 1984, we should prepare in particular. She asked that in these days people pray and abstain, that they receive Holy Communion on Sundays with a pure heart, because Jesus must work in people. Ivan reported that the Gospa said that there will be conversions and signs among the people.
The “Gospa of Medjugorje” goes directly against the directives of the bishop; both that the seers and their apparitions be removed from the church, and in that the fantasy about the change to the liturgical birthday of the Madonna was being spread. After the intervention of the Bishop, however, a week prior to the alleged birthday, no statement was made from the altar. The chronicler Vlasic writes:
Nevertheless, without the announcement.
“We did not announce the birthday of the Gospa (2000th) for August 5 since the bishop forbade it. We only exhorted the people so that the day, the first Sunday – Sunday of reconciliation, would be a true day of reconciliation.”
The apparition of Vlasic obeyed the directive of the bishop, but only tactically. He said, “there is to be no mention from the altar on account of the bishop”, in order not to irritate him.
No mention from the altar.
“30. VII. 1984 (Monday). Ivan had the vision again at the place of the apparitions at 22:00. The prayer group was with him, some Sisters, and people, and myself,” writes Vlasic. “The apparition lasted 15 minutes. At one point, Ivan said that the Gospa said that everyone should present his problems and wants in silence. Everyone prayed in silence. After the apparition Ivan told me that the Gospa said that there should not be any mention of the 2000th birthday from the altar on account of the bishop, but that the people should be urged to conversion and prayer. He said that she asked the youth of the parish specially to pray more. She also said that her son Jesus was bringing people here by Himself.
Nonetheless, the “apparition” of Medjugorje and its myth-maker Vlasic, violating ecclesiastical directives, “privately” will celebrate the “birthday” of the alleged Gospa who was “unusually happy”, and because of the private wishes, “bloomed with happiness”.
The first non-liturgical 2000th “birthday” feast.
5. VIII. 1984 (Sunday) All five of the seers had the vision in common. They say that the Gospa was very happy, uncommonly so. She had particular words for the individual seers. To Marija: “Pray! Open your heart to me and ask. I pray to my son Jesus that he will grant graces. Pray with faith.” We wished her a happy birthday. She was blooming with happiness.”
It is apparent also that Vlasic, the promoter, propagandist, and myth-maker of the Medjugorje phenomena, has formed his “apparitions” in the visions of the “seers” according to his contumacy, duplicity, and myth-making. Publicly no, privately yes!
Preparations for the non-liturgical feast of the “birthday”. Friar Slavko Barbaric writes:
“30. VII. 1985 (Tuesday). This evening the vision was on the mountain. Present: Marija, Ivan, and VIcka. Marija says that the Gospa asked for much more prayer for the “birthday”.
Evidently for the new invented birthday, 5 August.
Continue – at any cost! Friar Slavko continues:
“1. VIII, 1985. (Thursday). A lot of people are asking me for news about my transfer. So far none of us has a fitting response. We all feel that something should be done, but we don’t know what to do. In any case we need to carry on with the work at Medjugorje, at any cost. We can’t be unfaithful.”
Even at the cost of ecclesiastical disobedience. Friar Slavko has personally demonstrated this to me, because he did not want to leave Medjugorje, even at the cost of losing his faculties for hearing confessions. He died in this stubborn disobedience.
The “birthday” is celebrated regardless. Fr. Barbaric notes in the Chronicle:
“2.VIII.1985 (Friday). According to the pilgrims they feel the nearness of the feast of the Gospa. Last year the birthday of the Gospa was already announced. It was celebrated in prayer and fasting. This time nothing was said about it. The faithful are arriving.”
Nothing was said from the altar, but in private it was spoken of, spread abroad, promoted. Why else would “the faithful arrive”?
The people have not forgotten!
” 4.VIII.1985. (Sunday). Today there are so many people and pilgrims because last year the Gospa said through Jelena, that it was her 2000th birthday. A year has passed, and we cannot say a word about it, and the people have not forgotten. They love their Mother, and this is moving!”
These are the moving words of friar Slavko Barbaric! “They could not say a word”. referring to words “from the altar”. All the other channels remained available.
The second “birthday” celebration. Fr. Barbaric writes:
“5.VIII.1985 (Monday). – 2001st BIRTHDAY. The vision was in my rooms.. Marija, Ivan, and Vicka were present. It lasted 4 minutes. There were no particular messages. They described the apparition as very solemn. She called for joy and happiness and blessed us solemnly. A fact to return to: it is the BIRTHDAY of the Gospa. We had nothing about it from the altar. Others spoke about it during the Mass. This was in obedience to the bishop. We are not sure if one day the history of the apparitions of Medjugorje will praise us. But, you see, we are justified in obedience, for the sake of not provoking worse consequences and attacks, which surely there will no shortage of. It’s a sad fact, but so it is.Yet the people of God has responded in their way. Hundreds and thousands have arrived yesterday and today and for hours, they have prayed and sung, and made confessions. All just to wish their Mother a happy birthday. It is a consoling fact. Without announcements, publicity, or propaganda, the people hears and sees, feels and responds to the call. What a chance for the Church. But in this moment we are still blind men. At the end of the Mass three of the seers recited the Magnificat and we all responded with “Alleluia”. Mary, thank you for being here for us!”
The “apparition” happened in Friar Slavko’s rooms: a solemn apparition, solemn joy, solemn blessing! Both times he wrote BIRTHDAY in capital letters. Friar Slavko obeys the bishop! He doesn’t speak from the altar, but other people speak from the altar! He justifies himself with “obedience” for the sake of not provoking worse consequences. “It’s a sad fact!” And the people of God knows the response! Hundreds and thousands yesterday and today, give the Mother their birthday wishes” “It’s a consoling fact!” Friar Slavko cheers himself up like a child because he is innovating the anti-liturgical birthday of the “Gospa of Medjugorje”, because he is making a double play, because through the apparition he is manipulating human consciences! And he has left it all for us in writing.
No mention of the liturgical celebration of the Nativity, 1985,
“8. IX. 1985. (Sunday) Nativity of Mary. The vision was in the cellar. Marija and Jakov present. It was very brief, not even a minute. But some results were obtained.” (This alludes to the experiment that was made.)
There is no mention that the Gospa was solemn for her liturgical birthday as in 1981, in 1982, in 1983. The “apparition” of Medjugorje has abolished the birthday of the Madonna by means of the fables of the “seers” and the fantasies of Friars Tomislav and Slavko.
What happened for the Nativity in 1986?
“8.IX.1986. (Monday). The apparition was in our rooms. Present: Marija Pavlovic and Jakov Colo. This evening the apparition was filmed by the TV team from the BBC. The leader of the charismatic renewal of the German protestant church was present.”
The Nativity and the liturgical celebration of Our Lady’s birthday are not mentioned, but the presence of the German protestant charismatic renewal leader is mentioned. Symptomatic!
The third celebration of the “birthday”: The “Gospa” wants people to look forward to her birthday with her.
“3.VIII.1987. (Monday). Many pilgrims are here, especially Italians. They are arriving for the birthday of the Gospa.”
And the next day?
“4.VIII.1987. Marija and Ivan were here for the apparition. It lasted about 4 minutes. They said that the Gospa wanted people to look forward with her to her birthday. A lot of people stayed on the Hill of the apparitions all night because of this.”
And on the day itself?
“5.VIII.1987. Exactly at midnight between August 4 and 5, there was an apparition on the Hill of the Apparitions. Many people were there. The seers reported that the Gospa was very joyful on account of the multitude of the people and she called anew for holiness and for living out the messages.”
“And yet it moved!” The paraliturgical birthday is being introduced. The people come together more and more. and everything is leading up to the youth festival on 5 August, to “give our Mother birthday wishes”. We’ll talk about that more ahead.
What about the Immaculate Conception? Bishop Zanic asked about this in 1984. Here’s what friar Tomislav Vlasic said about it:
“8. XII. 1983 (Thursday). The five seers had a vision in common. The Gospa was dressed solemnly, as always on the great solemnities.”
If the “apparition” of Medjugorje is changing the birthday of the real Madonna, which is celebrated on 8 September, then this “apparition” would have to also change the date of her Immaculate Conception, and in consequence transfer it from December 8 to November 5, to agree in some way with the liturgical date of the birthday. She was born, supposedly, on the 5th of August, in the 16th year B.C., which means that she would have been born after less than 8 months’ gestation.
The Church has not accepted any of the “apparitions” of Medjugorje, the messages, the birthday, the biography, the secrets, the great signs, and has officially proclaimed that on the basis of all the canonical commissions of inquiry, it is not possible to affirm that this is a matter of “supernatural apparitions or revelations.”
It is worth noting that in the context of the invented “birthday”, August 5, the “Mladifast” began to be organized, the Youth Festival at Medjugorje at the start of that month. Young people came from around the world to give the Gospa birthday greetings! Here is how it all happened, according to the Chronicle of the apparitions:
The youth festival in honor of the invented “birthday of the Gospa”
The “Mladifest” or “Festival of the young” was first organized 20 years ago without the knowledge or approval of the local bishop. Evidently it was first organized on the basis of the imaginary alleged birthday of the Gospa on August 5, and then on the supposed “message of the Gospa” in the “year of the young” (1988-1989), and then as an observance of the “Gospa’s birthday” at Medjugorje, of which friar Slavko Barbaric writes expressively, as wehave seen and will see in the following.
Let us start from the “messages” of the “Gospa of Medjugorje”. Friar Slavko writes, as parochial vicar of Humac and chronicler of Medjugorje:
The first meeting of young people.
“5.VIII.1989. (Saturday). At 18:00 perpetual adoration was begun in the Kovacica cemetery chapel, organized by the youth. Tomorrow the novena to tthe Gospa starts with many young people, because the year of the young is ending, requested by the Gospa on the feast of the Assumption in 1988, at the end of the Marian Year.”
What kind of abuse of the liturgy is it, that “perpetual adoration” is organized in the Kovacica cemetery chapel? Who got that idea into his head, and with what permission and ecclesiastical approval?
From the text we can deduce that this “adoration was organized by the young people”; that there were “many young people”; that this was at the end of the “year of the young”; that, at the end of the Marian Year (1987-1988), the “apparition” of Medjugorje expressly requested to undertake a “year of the young”; that, according to the Chronicle, it lasted from the Assumption Day 1988 to Assumption 1989.
The second meeting of young people, 1990. “Friar Tomislav Vlasic directed the whole week,” we read under the date of 30 July 1990. At the end of the “festival” under the date of 6 August is written:
“At 14:00 the organizers met with Friar Tomislav Vlasic and Slavko. We decided to take the same week (next year). Some topics were proposed. We decided to publish a detailed program at the end of the year. We feel the need to continue with these meetings, because they are important. Seminars will be offered before the Festival by the organizers.”
It does not make sense that Friar Tomislav, who has not been in Herzegovina since 1987, and who comes from Italy, not only is directly involved in the “Medjugorje phenomenon” again in 1990, but is so familiar with the Franciscan community of Medjugorje that he personally directs the whole week and the “youth festival”.
The third meeting of young people, 1991. The Chronicle of the apparitions, maintained since 1991 by Fr. Barbaric, alias a chaplain at Humac, remained blank, without entries from 25 July to 5 August. Under the date of 6 August 1991 in the Chronicle is written:
“Many young people stayed all night attending the Mass. At 5:15 we began to sing litanies and “We have come to you, dear Mother”. Friar Tomislav Vlasic presided at the Mass. He exhorted us about the Cross, peace, and transfiguration. Concelebrants: 21. Many of our people, and all together circa 1500-2000. Friar Leonardo again directed a word to all the young people, inviting them to live in peace and spread it to others. Then we all recited the Credo and seven Our Fathers. We distributed three large loaves, a sign of communion.”
Again in 1991 Friar Tomislav Vlasic, participant in the events of Medjugorje, presides at the final Mass and takes the principal role in the closing ceremony.
The fourth meeting of young people, 1992. Friar Slavko Barbaric writes:
“5.VIII.1992. (Wednesday). The birthday of the Gospa. At 21:30 the festival in honor of the Gospa’s birthday began. The church was packed. Everything in perfect order. individuals and groups participated. The youth from Medjugorje sang, Elvira’s community, Pero and Mile who led the singing during the festival, sang two songs with the youth. The German group appeared also. The “singles” were Mirko from Citluk, Gino from Italy, Dajan from America, Cristina from Argentina. The sisters sang another song. All the songs were about the Gospa. Two religious brothers, French and Italian, members of the Community of the Beatitudes, sang in Hebrew, and a youth group from Ireland. At the end the band from Mostar kept everyone enthusiastic. They sang three songs, “To the Gospa”, a Dalmatian song, and “In the combat”. Enthusiasm from everyone. After the program we distributed flowers to everyone and sent them singing in procession to the statue of the Gospa. It was moving to witness it. At 11:30 we were done. Many of the youth went from the church to Mt. Krizevac.”
From this written proof it is evident that the Franciscans of Medjugorje, at least some of them, firmly decided to celebrate the “birthday” of the Gospa on 5 August, apart from the whole orthodox Catholic world, following “apparitions” not recognized by the Church; to organize and bring here young people from around the world to hold a “festival in honor of the Gospa’s birthday”, to “give their Mother their birthday wishes”, offering them admission and other presentations.Conclusions
First, after the tragic case of Vlasic was published around the world last year, when Vlasic was punished with five sanctions, besides the deprivation of the faculty to hear confessions decreed by the provincial curia of Mostar, a statement appeared that Friar Tomislav had not been punished on account of the Medjugorje phenomenon or for his personal attitude in regard to that phenomenon. And this year, when he was punished with the two final sanctions, dismissal from the Order and from the priesthood, by the Generalate Curia in Rome a statement appeared that Vlasic “had not acknowledged the charges placed against him, and for this reason he had not accepted the sanctions. Therefore he asked to be dispensed from the exercise of his priestly ministry and from the status of a religious.” Therefore he has shown himself to be contumaciously disobedient not only to the bishop many times, but also to the Holy See in the end, believing more in the “apparitions of Medjugorje” that praised his spirituality, his guidance, and his direction for people’s lives.
In both cases, last year and this year, it was clearly stated, first, that his case was studied “in the context of the phenomenon of Medjugorje”, and second, that he was absolutely forbidden to make statements, especially in relation to the “Medjugorje phenomenon”. Prudent readers will draw the prudent conclusion, on the basis of all that has been presented, on his direct linkage, his involvement and influence on the “Medjugorje phenomenon”.
Second, there is the often-cited statement of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, appearing also in the communique of the Franciscan Curia of Rome in July 2009. In the book published by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State of Benedict XVI and ex-Secretary of the Vatican Congregation, “The last seer of Fatima” (Ed. Rai-Rizzoli, 2007, pp. 103-104), it is stated that
“The statements of the bishop of Mostar reflect a personal opinion, and are not a definitive judgment by the Church. Everyone is referred to the statement of the former Yugoslav bishops at Zadar on 10 April 1991, which leaves the door open to future inquiries. Evaluation, therefore, must go on. In the meantime, private pilgrimages are permitted with pastoral accompaniment of the faithful. In sum, Catholic pilgrims can all go to Medjugorje, a place of Marian veneration, where it is possible to express oneself with all the devotional forms.”
With reference to the “pilgrimages”, it is worth noticing the entire statement written in the same page of the same book by the most eminent Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, then Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, immediately before the one quoted above:
“In sum, concerning pilgrimages to Medjugorje conducted privately, this Congregation holds that they are permitted on the condition that they are not considered an authentication of the events in progress and which call for examination by the Church.”
In other words: pilgrimages to Medjugorje are not permitted if they support and authenticate and hold as authentic the “events in progress”. And to date neither the local bishop, nor the Bishops’ Conference, nor the Holy See has recognized or proclaimed authentic anything in the “phenomenon of Medjugorje”.
 R. Laurentin, Reports and message of the apparitions at Medjugorje, Brescia 1987, p. 94.
 After Bishop Žanić preached his homily on 25 July 1987 at Međugorje, in September of the same year, he greeted Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the airport of Rome – we were going to the Mariological-Marian Congress in Kevelaer – after he was introduced to me, the Cardinal said to me, “You have a courageous bishop!”
 Current (non-official) position of the diocesan curia of Mostar on the events of Medjugorje, 30. X. 1984, p. 19.
A. Luburić, „Friar Tomislav Vlašić ‘in the context of the Medjugorje phenomenon'”, in: Official Bulletin, 2/2008, p. 81.
 From the interview of the Provincial, Dr. Friar Ivan Sesar, in Večernji list, 28 September 2008.
 From the statement of Fr. Francesco Bravi to Zenit, 29 July 2009.
 Ogledalo Pravde, Mostar 2001, p. 278.