[UPDATE (5/30): I’ve received some recommendations on improving the translation, to fix a couple of mistakes I made, and to add a couple of changes on the basis of the original text in Croatian, so I’ve updated this post accordingly.]

Here is a new background article on the Medjugorje phenomenon, published in March of this year in the diocesan bulletin of Mostar.

This piece discusses the history of the Medjugorje visionaries in regard to seeking vocations as friars or religious sisters. Over the 30-year course of the phenomenon four of the six expressed some interest in consecrated life, three are known to have made contacts or more extensive efforts toward such vocations, but none succeeded. All eventually settled the question by marrying.

The lack of religious or priestly vocations among the six has been a cause of puzzlement to observers, and Jose Cardinal Saraiva Martins mentioned it in his January interview as one of several points that make the Medjugorje case unlike Fatima.

In addition to what the article tells about the visionaries’ vocational decisions, it includes some interesting material about the personal relationships among them, and their relations with the priests who advised them over the years.

This translation, based on the Italian edition on the diocesan website, is my own work, and any suggestions for improving it are welcome.

The Spiritual Vocations of the “Seers of Medjugorje”
Diocese of Mostar-Duvno
Chancery Office
March 5, 2010

(The present article was published in the official Bulletin of the Dioceses of Mostar-Duvno and Trebinje-Mrkan, 1/2010, pp. 114-122, March 5, 2010. This English translation was prepared on the basis of the original text in Croatian and the Italian edition published on the diocesan website.)

Many people acquainted with the “Medjugorje phenomenon”, whether they be critics or those who accept it as having a supernatural origin, are surprised and somewhat confused by the fact that none of the six alleged seers have realized a spiritual vocation. Once, referring to this fact, Fr. Tomislav Vlašić, then associate pastor at Medjugorje, wrote in the Chronicle of the Apparitions that “the wisdom of the Gospa becomes ever more apparent, in that she thus advised the seers in July 1981, yet leaving them free, to enter the religious life.”[1] It appears that this was more the wish of Fr. Tomislav, and later the wish of Fr. Slavko Barbarić, who was also associate pastor of Medjugorje, than that of the six “seers”. However, in the 1983 letter he sent to the noted Swiss theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar, Fr. Tomislav informed him: “The teenagers have decided to enter the religious life but are waiting for the moment that only they know.”[2] Evidently implying all the teenagers, none excluded! Today everyone knows that these were simply stories. Not all the “privileged” adolescents entered the religious life, nor in fact did they know the moment of their entry, and those who did go, left an example that should not be imitated. In this “Year of the Priest”, in which we reflect in a particular way on the situation of spiritual vocations, the Diocesan Chancery takes a brief look at these “fruits of Medjugorje”, that is, at the history of the unsuccessful attempts in which four of the seers said they wanted to enter the religious life; with two actually following the miraculous “voice”, yet with the passage of time everything went cold. The boys and the girls have since respectively married.

–The editor


1. Ivan Dragićević

Ivan was born May 25, 1965 in Mostar to his father Stanko and his mother Zlata. After elementary school, he attended the first year of secondary school at Čitluk, but did not pass.[3] In a conversation with his prefect at Visoko, he cited as one reason for his lack of success the well-known “case” of Medjugorje.[4] A bit strange, considering that the alleged apparitions at Medjugorje began after the end of the 1981 school year! Following the message of the “Lady” appearing at Medjugorje, which had advised them to consecrate themselves to God and enter the religious life, Ivan presented himself at the end of August 1981 at the seminary as a candidate of the Franciscan province of Herzegovina. Here is how the “seer” Vicka, in a conversation with Fr. Janko Bubalo, two years after the events, describes his “hurried” decision to go to the seminary:

Janko:    Vicka, practically everyone knows that the Madonna gave you some advice almost immediately regarding choices for your future.
Vicka:    Yes. We’ve never made a secret of that.
J:    What did she say to you?
V:    She said that it would be good for us to consecrate ourselves completely to the Lord. To enter a convent or something similar.
J:     Did that disturb you?
V:     I don’t know. It depends on each of us.
J:     Did you have time to think about it?
V:     Of course we did. We still have time today. Only Ivan had to decide quickly, because he had to go to the seminary right away if he wanted to.
J:     And did he?
V:     He really did decide quickly.
J:     And he went?
V:     Yes, he went.
J:     Maybe it would have been better if he hadn’t decided in such a hurry. Because we see that afterward he was bit confused. [He had difficulties in his studies, and because of them he returned home.]
V:     Yes, that’s right. Who knows what plans God has for him?  It’s not easy to tell. You know that better than I do.[5]

Ivan’s superiors sent him to the Franciscan minor seminary in Visoko. At the seminary he also had regular “visions”, except in the first seven days. Was it really that way?  In an account of the vision of October 1, 1981, the chronicler Vlašić reports the following words of Vicka and Jakov: “The Gospa let them see Ivan Dragićević (seer in the seminary at Visoko). Very happy, he spreads his arms to jump for joy. She said that she will not appear to him until November 15, 1981, because of his scholastic obligations. If he does see her some in the meantime, it will only be to visit him.” The chronicler, later under the same date, adds the following note: “Vicka knew this thanks to a pilgrim who had spoken with Ivan Dragićević. Later we checked it with Ivan and learned that it wasn’t true, inasmuch as he had regular visions, except for the first 7 days at the seminary.”[6] Is Ivan telling an untruth, or did Vicka, without any scruples, put unreliable news heard from a pilgrim into the Gospa’s mouth?  If this is how things stand, (which the chronicler easily left out), how can we believe now that the other “messages” which Vicka has attributed to the Gospa are worthy of belief?

But this is not the only time that Vicka and Jakov have seen Ivan the seminarian in visions, as well as the Gospa. In the account of the vision on November 18, 1981 it is written: “The Gospa was with Jakov and Vicka for 15 minutes. They prayed, sang, and talked. At a certain point they were allowed to see Ivan, smiling and with his eyes lifted to Heaven.”[7]  So not only does a certain phenomenon appear to Ivan, but he also appears to others, smiling and with his eyes lifted to Heaven.

According to Ivan’s prefect, his “intellectual capacities are somewhat poor, during work, especially to school work, he is often ‘absent'”, and later he continues: “We pointed this out to him. He agreed with our observations, but remains in ‘his own world'”.[8] At Visoko Ivan himself organized prayer meetings with some Herzegovina seminarians who volunteered. He preferred the visions and the prayer meetings over his ordinary scholastic duties and it is no wonder that he finished the school year with a negative grade. He had a retry: he was re-examined twice, in June and September 1982. He didn’t pass, so he was dismissed from the seminary at Visoko. The chronicler briefly mentioned it on September 1, 1982: “The seer Ivan Dragićević has returned from Visoko. He was retested and failed German, and students in that situation are dismissed from the seminary. On account of (his) weak intellectual capacity, we’ll try to have him continue school at Dubrovnik”.[9]

Given that the first year of school at Visoko didn’t go well, it was thought that school would go better for him if he went to the secondary school at Dubrovnik. Although he passed his German language exam at Dubrovnik, and made it to second year[10], he didn’t show any will for school as he did for the “apparitions”. Here too, instead of study, he dedicated himself to the apparitions. Thus Fr. Tomislav writes in the Chronicle on December 5, 1982: “Today I spoke with Ivan Dragićević. He’s having problems with school; his studies are going badly. He is having visions regularly every day.”[11] Although the Chronicle recounts at various points that “Ivan is not learning well, although it seems that he is applying himself” and that he is having ordinary visions in which the Gospa recounts her life story to him,[12] at no point, at the end of the scholastic year, is there mention of Ivan’s second failure and the fact that he had to abandon the seminary on account of bad grades. Just sudden silence!

Ivan attributed his lack of success to his thinking about what was happening at Medjugorje and to alleged provocations on the part of his peers.[13]  Fr. Slavko noted on February 20, 1985: “Today Ivan Dragićević spoke with me. A steady spiritual progress can be seen in him. He’s also busy with his scholastic work. He recognizes that at Visoko, he was focused on the events down here, and that this was disturbing him. He says that things were more difficult at Dubrovnik. He felt he was being provoked all the time. He also sees his responsibility for his scholastic progress. He is going to try to improve the situation.”[14] After returning from Dubrovnik, he will not pursue the secondary school curriculum, but will seek, first at Zagreb and then at Makarska, to pass the private studies exam in independent catering: here he will succeed in June 1985. Fr. Slavko writes on June 12, 1985: “Today Ivan Dragićević proudly showed me his diploma as a independent caterer. He took his exam at Makarska. Now at least he’s got something in his hands!”[16]

Ivan’s lack of success at Visoko and Dubrovnik doesn’t mean, though, that he has stopped thinking about the priesthood. A passage in the Chronicle also testifies to this. Under the date of June 29, 1985, the chronicler notes: “I talked with Fr. Milan Mikulić about the whole situation. He’s very interested in the events. He’s especially interested in the case of the two chaplains and wants to work with us. For his part, he works in America and has written a lot about Medjugorje. He said that Ivan Dragićević told him that he wants to become a priest.”[17]  There is nothing else written about whether he tried to put that into action, but we know that nine years later he irrevocably transformed his spiritual vocation into the state of matrimony. In fact, in St. Leonard Parish in Boston on October 23, 1994, he married the former Miss Massachusetts Loreen Murphy. He spends part of the year in Medjugorje and the other months in Boston. And he still claims to have “visions” every day.

2. Vicka Ivanković

Vicka (Vida), perhaps the most famous of the six “seers”, was born on September 3, 1964 at Bijakovići, to her father Pero and her mother Zlata. She still routinely has “visions” to this day and is tireless at preaching and spreading the messages of the “Gospa”.[18]

Vicka, from the beginning of the Medjugorje phenomenon, showed enthusiasm for religious life. As early as September 1981 she admitted to an Italian weekly:
What hope do you have for the future?
I’d like to go into a convent, become a nun.[19]

Later in 1982 in the parish office in Medjugorje she reveals this to the Belgrade magazine “Reporter”, which reports an exhaustive conversation with the “girl who has seen the Gospa”, who says she is an “enrolled nun”.[20]   The same year she will also repeat this to two visitors from Zagreb, about whom the parochial vicar Vlasić writes in the Chronicle on May 11, 1982: “After the pra
yer for the sick, Vicka remained briefly in conversation with two visitors from Zagreb who were interested in her future. She answered them in all simplicity: ‘I’m going to be a nun.’  At the question of whether she would marry, she said: ‘No, it hasn’t crossed my mind!'”[21]  And in the Working diary, in which her sister Ana wrote the progress of the apparitions from June 24-29, 1981, under the entry “profession” next to the name of Vicka the “seer” has written in her own hand: “nun”.[22]

In the book by Fr. Janko Bubalo cited above, after having spoken of the call and the response of Ivan, she answers the question of whether the other seers have decided what way of life they will choose:

Janko:    All right, Vicka. And did the rest of you decide anything?
Vicka:     We had time. We still have time. Marija and I decided early for the convent, and later, we’ll see what God wants. What that is, we don’t know yet.
J:     Tell me, please: how did the Madonna receive your decision?
V:     She was very pleased. I’ve only seen her happy that way a few times.[23]

Despite being an “enrolled nun”, despite having reached a firm decision not to marry, although the Gospa was very happy about it, even several times, the “seer” Vicka never did enter the convent. After twenty years there came a young man from Krehin Gradac, Mario Mijatović, whom she married on January 26, 2002 at Medjugorje.

First the “seer” Vicka announces “urbi et orbi” that she’s an “enrolled nun”, and after 20 years she goes to Rome to buy a wedding gown. Even a journalist in January 2002 remained a bit disconcerted that none of the six “seers” had received a spiritual calling. The “seer” Vicka responded: “The Gospa has given each of us free will. Each one can respond to the call as he wishes. Despite the fact that I’m married, I will continue with spreading the messages of the Gospa, because you can testify to the Christian faith within marriage too.”[24]

Hence, regarding her vocation – she has complete liberty; yet regarding the spread of the messages of the Gospa – she has a duty!

3. Jakov Čolo

Jakov is the youngest of the six alleged seers of Medjugorje, born on March 6, 1971 at Bijakovići to his father Ante and his mother Jaka. From June 25, 1981 to September 12, 1998 he had “apparitions” approximately daily, and now he has them only once a year, at Christmas.[25]

In her often cited interview, conducted by Fr. Janko Bubalo, at the question on Jakov’s future profession, Vicka responds that for him there’s still time to decide.

Janko:        Now is anything known about Jakov?
Vicka:        What can the little guy do? He still has time to think about it.
Jakov:        So, let him think. [26]

Actually, at the end of 1983, when this interview was conducted, Jakov was 13 years old and was a pupil in the 7th grade of primary school. There was time ahead of him to consider and reach a mature decision on whether to act or not on the spiritual calling recommended by the “Gospa”. He really did consider it.

For a while, he was enthusiastic about the idea of going into seminary to become a priest. As a pupil in the 8th grade, at the end of September 1984, he revealed his intention for the first time to Fr. Slavko Barbarić, parochial vicar and chronicler of Medjugorje. On September 28, 1984, describing the meeting and the prayer with the “seers” in Vicka’s house, he records in the Chronicle of the apparitions: “In particular I brought to their attention the necessity of always listening and literally reporting the message, and if they are not sure, of not writing quotation marks.

Jakov said today, for the first time, that he is going to go to seminary next year, that this is his vocation. There is a sense that Jakov is progressing spiritually. He has become more serious and mature.”[27]

Jakov repeated the same desire in the middle of October, that is, on 15 October 1984. Returning from a trip, he reported to Fr. Slavko on his “apparitions” and the latter wrote in the Chronicle:  “He confirms that he had a vision every day. Each of them lasted up to 15 minutes. There were other people with him during the visions, some classmates. Also today he confirmed to me that he wants to become a priest.”[28]  Then the chronicler Fr. Slavko Barbarić does not mention this desire of Jakov’s for months. Jakov is silent, and Fr. Slavko is also silent. Was it only a momentary disposition?

At the end of the school year, 13 May 1985, Jakov is no longer thinking about the seminary, but intends to pursue his education at the secondary school in Sarajevo, and if he has a vocation, he will become a priest. He also spoke about it with Fr. Slavko, who briefly describing the conversation, writes: “Jakov said to me that he wants to go to the secondary school in Sarajevo, and if he has a vocation, he will become a priest. I suggested he remain here. The question was left open.”[29]

Jakov attended the secondary school at Čitluk, not at Sarajevo as he had first planned, in order to be closer to the events at Medjugorje. Fr. Slavko writes in the Chronicle on 2 September 1985: “Jakov has gone to school. He is in his second term and it’s not easy for him because of the visions. He asked the Gospa this evening where and how he will have his encounters with her. He asked her permission to have them after Mass. He says that the Gospa is leaving him a free choice in the matter! Later we learned that he can get here on time from school if Zdenka Bošnjak, who comes every evening anyway, brings him right away after school. This time Jakov seemed to me to act and reflect in a mature manner.”[30]

It’s noticeable that Fr. Slavko’s judgment changes often. In more than one occasion, he writes that Jakov gives the impression of acting with maturity, but later at another point, provoked by his childish behavior, he even questions his “visions”. Let us read the report of Fr. Slavko on the date March 12, 1985: “Today, that is, this evening in the chapel, there was an unpleasant atmosphere due to the conflict between Fr. Slavko and Jakov. He began the catechism by causing a disturbance. Since Jakov didn’t want to sit still, when they met at Bijakovici, Fr. Slavko scolded him in front of Marija and called into question everything that he was experiencing. Fr. Slavko spoke in such a tone that Marija was shocked. When asked what was going on and why, Fr. Slavko, starting his car, added: You’ll figure it out!”[31]  Later, on 9 June 1985, the same chronicler mentions his capricious behavior: “Jakov has gone with his aunt to the sea and will stay there for a week. I suppose it will be good for him, since lately he has been very moody and nervous.”[32]

Nor did his behavior change after the summer. Thus Fr. Slavko writes that he continues to be rebellious, and reveals that the gifts (money) and the attention he receives from visitors to Medjugorje are having a negative influence on him. Fr. Slavko writes in the Chronicle on September 29, 1985: “These days we have been coming into conflict somewhat with Jakov. He always talks back, disobedient, clumsy, mischievous. The gifts he receives, the attention given to him by the pilgrims, certainly in this growing period for him, are not good for him.”[33] And on October 1, 1985, he records in the Chronicle: “Marija Pavlović relayed to me that Fr. Janko Bubalo had written a letter about Jakov for Marija to ask the Gospa about his behavior. When asked, the Gospa allowed his letter to be given to Jakov. After he read it, Jakov cried, quite a lot. It’s about the fact that Fr. Janko reproaches him for an unserious attitude about the Mass and prayer.”[34]

We do not know whether the criticism received from Fr. Slavko Barba
rić and from Fr. Janko Bubalo which was discussed with Jakov, and with which the same “Gospa” agreed, had an influence on him, so that he began to think about entering the seminary. But a little more than a month after this event, on November 4, 1985, Jakov once again made his desire known to Fr. Slavko, as the latter wrote in the Chronicle: “Yesterday was Saturday [that is, the 2nd and the 3rd of November – editor’s note]. Jakov Čolo began to say that he wanted to enter the seminary. He insisted on it. His uncle Filip came with him also. We are of the opinion that he should finish the year that he has begun here. He wants to go to the Provincial on his own and speak with him. He doesn’t say what’s driving him, but he’s insistent.”[35]  “Although Fr. Slavko has advised him to prudently finish the school year, and then present himself to the seminary, he continues to ask for a conversation with the Provincial. We’ll see if this disposition is momentary or a permanent wish to become a priest. I asked him if the Gospa had said anything to him about it. He stated that she not had said anything to him recently, but that at the beginning she told them to decide for themselves.”[36]

He wasn’t patient, but requested a meeting at the Provincialate. Fr. Petar Ljubičić, parochial vicar at Medjugorje, went with him on November 6, 1985, to see Fr. Jozo Pejić. Fr. Slavko writes: “Today Jakov Čolo and Fr. Petar Ljubičić went to Mostar at about 9:30 a.m. for a meeting with Fr. Jozo Pejić regarding Jakov’s admission to seminary. Fr. Jozo told him to wait until Christmas, and it would be better to wait until the end of the year. We’ll see what happens.”[37]   He also advised him to stay until Christmas or until the beginning of the new school year. It seems they agreed. So he began to prepare for the seminary, for example, he started to practice Latin with Fr. Slavko. “I decided with Jakov to have him study Latin. And he readily agreed.”[38] The Chronicle does not make any further mention of Jakov’s persistence, or that of the vocation, or his progress in Latin. We do know with certainty that he did not enter the seminary, and whatever the reasons are, they remain known only to him.

Here is how Jakov transformed his spiritual vocation into the matrimonial state! On Easter, April 11, 1993, during Holy Mass presided by Fr. Slavko Barbarić, concelebrated by the pastor of Medjugorje Fr. Ivan Landeka, by the former pastor of Medjugorje Fr. Leonard Oreč and also by other priests, he entered into the sacrament of matrimony with Annalisa Barozzi, an Italian woman.[39]  They have three children and live at Medjugorje.

4. Marija Pavlović

Marija was born on April 1, 1965 at Bijakovići, in the parish of Medjugorje, to her father Filip and her mother Iva. She attended the secondary school at Mostar and has been a “seer” since the second day of the alleged apparitions, June 25, 1981.[40]

Vicka, in a conversation with Fr. Janko Bubalo, says that she and Marija decided quickly for the convent, and that the Gospa joyfully accepted their decision, and she adds, “I have seen her happy that way a few times.”[40]  Also in a conversation with Fr. Slavko Barbarić, September 21, 1984, she stated that Marija was going into the convent: “Marija can get a job, but she doesn’t want to. She’s thinking of doing two more years of study to be a teacher in preschool. She says after that she’ll become a nun.”  It seems that this thought was present in her at the beginnings of the Medjugorje phenomenon, and later she sought to act on it.

About trying to live in a convent, to a journalist’s question in 2001: “Why have none of you become priests or nuns?  Five of you are married. Does this mean, perhaps, it’s important to form Christian families?” Marija explained her decision:

“For so many years I thought that I would become a sister. I started going to a convent, and my desire to enter was very strong. But the mother superior said to me: ‘Marija, if you want to come, you’re welcome, but if the bishop decides that you must not talk about Medjugorje, you have to obey.’  At that point I started to think that maybe my vocation was to testify to what I have seen and heard, and that I would be able to seek the way of holiness outside of a convent too.”[43]

But it wasn’t quite like that. Marija tried anyway to enter an unusual mixed religious community, founded by Fr. Tomislav Vlašić, in which she remained for some months. Fr. Tomislav Vlašić, together with the German woman Agnes Heupel, founded a mixed community called “Queen of peace, we are completely yours – to Jesus through Mary”. Agnes Heupel, a nurse, born 1951 in Münster, suffered a partial paralysis on the left side of the body starting in 1974, and later tumors in her lungs, and a progressive loss of memory. In 1983 in an alleged vision she saw a church with two towers surrounded by light. Three years later, in 1986, leafing through a book on Medjugorje, she saw the photo of the church and wanted to go there. During an “apparition” in the sacristy of the parish church at Medjugorje, 12 May 1986, the vigil of  Our Lady of Fatima, she says that she was cured and no longer needed help to move. This was one of the most famous “healings” of Medjugorje.

At Medjugorje she came into contact with the parochial vicar Vlašić and during a prayer meeting received a “message” from Jesus in which He announced a new community in which the two of them would give themselves to God like “Claire and Francis”.[44]  Having received this call, they withdrew for a time of prayer in solitude. During this time Mary and Jesus gave Agnes specific messages for the community, while they spoke to Fr. Tomislav in the Spirit and prepared him for it through interior experiences. Even the “Gospa”, through the “seer” Marija Pavlović, in the message of March 8, 1987, revealed: “This is a plan of God.”[45]  At the end of the little work titled “A call in the Marian year” Marija also reports a personal testimony of hers, and affirms: “As you see, the Madonna has given the program for the community: Queen of peace, we are completely Yours, to Jesus through Mary, and she guides this community by means of Fr. Tomislav and Agnes, through whom come messages for the community”, that is, if we are to believe the text from Vlašić.

A short time later, Marija denied this decisively and quit the community. This was the first major conflict and manifestation of intolerance between two people, Agnes and Marija, who were having “visions” and receiving messages for the community at the same time. Thus, in the statement of July 11, 1988, she sharply responds in her own handwriting to this “program of the Gospa” and her own previous “testimony”: before God, the Madonna, and the Church of Jesus Christ, she completely denies that there were any “messages” whatsoever through her for the community and for that “work of God”, in which she spent several months. And she signs this in front of the Blessed Sacrament. This means that what Fr. Tomislav Vlašić has brought about in the foundational “Call” of his community is a pure deception and a mere fantasy, if now we are to believe Marija (who, for her part, wrote: “Personally I had no desire to make any kind of written statement. Fr. Tomislav suggested it to me, insisting I write as a seer the testimony that the world was waiting for.”)

In defense of the “seer” Marija, after her departure from the mixed community, the world’s most famous advocate of the Medjugorje “seers”, Rev. Laurentin, came to her aid, and explained:

a) that next to the German woman Agnes Heupel, spiritual collaborator of Fr. Tomislav Vlašić, and mediator of the “messages of the Gospa” for the community, Marija’s messages were marginalized, and she could not accept that,
b) that Paolo Lunetti was seriously in love with her, and she did accept that,
c) that this Italian man Paolo had succeeded in repa
iring the conflict between Marija and Fr. Tomislav Vlašić, so
d) Paolo supported her exit from the community during the time of its “retreat”;
e) and he helped her publish an “open letter” about her departure from that religious community,
f) and he helped her to get married five years later, to him.[47]

The spiritual rivalries between Agnes and Marija, about the “messages” to the community, suggest to the prudent believer to keep a distance from these personal Medjugorean conquests in the interpretation of R. Laurentin, T. Vlašić, Agnes Heupel, Marija Pavlović and other participants in the “phenomenon”.

Having received oral approval in 1988 from Mons. Benito Cocchi, bishop of Parma, the mixed community functions as a private association of the faithful. Through Agnes came many messages from Jesus and Mary, who, according to Fr. Tomislav Vlašić, gave concrete exhortations for the foundation of the community, in accord with the messages of the six seers at Medjugorje. These alleged “messages” also became the Rule of the community for its members.

Since 1990, the community has been residing and functioning in the territory of the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno without any approval from the competent authority of the Church. In order to function freely and be recognized in the civil sphere, the community founded an Association of citizens under the same title,[48] and at Medjugorje it built a grandiose building in the form of a cross where its members live today and receive visitors to Medjugorje. This is another of the generally unmentioned “fruits of Medjugorje”.

5. Ivanka Ivanković

Ivanka, also called Ivica, was born in Bijakovići, in the parish of Medjugorje, June 21, 1966 to her father Ivan and her mother Jagoda. She attended the secondary school in Mostar and resided there. She had her last daily encounter with the phenomenon on May 7, 1985. Since then, Ivanka has “visions” only once a year, on June 25.[49]

Vicka[50], in a conversation with Fr. Janko, says that Ivanka did not decide to go into the convent. Here is how Fr. Janko reports this dialogue:

Janko:        And have the others made any decision, if it’s not a secret?
Vicka:        Maybe, maybe not. They don’t all hide their decisions. As far as I know, Ivanka and Mirjana haven’t decided to enter the convent. You could say they’re still thinking about it.
Janko:        Ivanka has also told me that she doesn’t have any intention to do that… [51]

In fact, in the Chronicle of the apparitions, we did not succeed in finding even the least allusion to her entry into the convent. That is why it is surprising that Fr. Tomislav Vlašić had written, in his letter to Hans Urs von Balthasar, that the “children” were going to enter a cloister,[22] when he knew that she at least did not have such an intention. Another manipulation of the facts. It seems that from the beginning that recommendation and advice of the Gospa were clear, but from the beginning she chose matrimony, and later she married Rajko Elez.

6. Mirjana Dragićević

She was born in Sarajevo on March 18, 1965, to her father Jozo and her mother Milena. She lived in Sarajevo and attended school there. She had her first “vision” of the “celestial phenomenon” on June 24, 1981, and her last daily encounter on December 25, 1982. At first she stated that she would have apparitions on her birthday, that is, March 18, for the rest of her life. As this would mean a rather long period without visions, she changed her mind quickly. She began to have visions occasionally and to hear the voice of the “Gospa”, and since August 2, 1987, has stated on the second of every month that she hears the voice of the “Gospa” and also “sees her”.[53]  And she gives “messages” that, for their fame, are on the same level as those of the 25th of the month.

The thought of entering a convent also crossed her mind, and the desire to do so was also there, but, as is well known, she did not. Fr. Tomislav Vlašić, on August 18, 1982, writes in the Chronicle “Mirjana has not chosen a vocation yet. She’s thinking about it, and will reach a decision after her graduation exams. She says she can’t be like these nuns. She has the desire, but it is not yet a choice – for now she couldn’t say, renounce all her wardrobe and her companions – to work as a sister among the lepers and the poor… One obstacle to such a choice is her mother, who wants her daughter to marry.”[54] But rather than listening to her own desire and the recommendation of the “apparition” of the heavenly Mother, she listened to her own mother’s desire.

Fr. Janko Bubalo, after Vicka said that Mirjana and Ivanka have not decided to enter a convent, writes:

J:    It seems clear for Mirjana too. We know that just from the conversation she had with Fr. Tomislav on January 10, 1983, what she intends to do.
V:    The important thing is that she remains good and faithful to God, as for the rest…[55]

What is it about Mirjana that “can be seen clearly enough”?  Is Fr. Janko alluding to the stories that circulated about Mirjana among the “seers” after the “apparitions” stopped?  Are her way of dressing and her make-up really the reasons why the Gospa stopped “appearing to her” and the sign by which anyone could see that she did not intend to realize a spiritual vocation?  In a conversation conducted by the parochial vicar Vlašić on January 4, 1983, Vicka says, in the Chronicle: “I think that the Gospa stopped appearing to Mirjana because she doesn’t carry out what the Gospa wants. I’ve seen how she dresses, makes herself up, she’s never here… So I think, She’s expressed it well. Besides, Ivan Dragićević confided to me – but I can’t tell the others – that the Gospa complained about Mirjana and told him that she had entrusted the 10th secret to her and stopped appearing to her. She hasn’t said anything to me about her, underscored Vicka.”[56]


Many compare Medjugorje with Lourdes and Fatima; better still, they affirm that the phenomenon of Medjugorje is a continuation of Fatima. Even if this is not the case, let us make a parallel from Medjugorje with the two renowned modern Marian apparition sites recognized by the Church. At Lourdes the Madonna appeared in 1858 to the fourteen-year-old Marie Bernadette Soubirous 18 times. Bernadette, four years later, declared: “I have to become a religious sister, but I don’t know in what Order. The Holy Virgin told me, and I’m waiting for it.”  Two years later, on May 19, 1864, she entered the postulancy of the convent of St. Gildard near the city of Nevers. She was clothed with the habit in July 1866. Unhealthy, yet persevering until her death on April 16, 1879. She was proclaimed blessed by Pope Pius XI on July 14, 1925, and canonized by the same Pope December 8, 1933.

At Fatima the Madonna appeared 6 times (from May to October 1917) to young children: Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, the latter two who died as children: Francisco at the age of 11 (1908-1919) and Jacinta at 10 (1910-1920). They were beatified on May 13, 2000 by Pope John Paul II. In 1925 Lucia entered the Institute of the Sisters of St. Dorothy, which she left in 1948 to enter the Carmel of St. Joseph at Coimbra, seeking peace and fleeing the curious who wanted to see her. And she died in the Carmel in 2005. A diocesan process for her beatification has also been started.

The four “seers” of Medjugorje who at least tried to “enroll” themselves in a spiritual vocation, “withdrew” themselves out of it, and are happily married. Three of them, Ivan in Boston, Vicka at Krehin Gradac, and Marija in Monza near Milan, still have the usual daily apparitions, while the other two “seers”, Mirjana Dragićević Soldo and Ivanka Ivankovi
ć Elez have not even tried to cross the threshold of a spiritual family (they have formed their own families). The former has “apparitions” on the 2nd of every month and on her birthday March 18, and the latter only once a year, on June 25. Jakov Čolo, since September 12, 1998, has “apparitions” once a year, and that on Christmas.

Bearing in mind that numerous young men of Herzegovina have entered the seminary and become priests, religious or diocesan, and numerous young people have become religious sisters and brothers, without having, at least as far as is known, apparitions, messages, secrets, encounters, and conversations with supernatural phenomena, it seems strange that none of the “seers” of Medjugorje, who in about 30 years have had an innumerable multitude of “apparitions” – about 40,000 – have embraced a spiritual vocation. Not just the two who never tried at all, but the other four who even had the backing of their “apparition”, didn’t develop a vocation, and once enrolled couldn’t persevere even after having been in it for a time. Perhaps this too is one of the “fruits of Medjugorje?”

Mostar, 5 March 2010.

The Diocesan Curia of Mostar

[1] Chronicle of the apparitions, vol. I., 4. VI. 1983., p. 501.
[2] D. Kutleša (ed.), Mirror of Truth, (Ogledalo Pravde) Mostar, 2001., p. 55.
[3] Mirror of Truth, p. 33.
[4] Mostar Diocesan Archive, Medjugorje Sources, Report of Fr. Vitomir Silić on Ivan Dragićević, 20.III.1984.
[5] J. Bubalo, A Thousand Encounters with the Blessed Virgin Mary in Medjugorje. (Italian edition) The apparitions of Medjugorje as told by the seer Vicka, Edizioni Messaggero Padova, Padova 61998, p. 149.
[6] Chronicle of the apparitions, Introduction, 1. X. 1981.
[7] Chronicle, Introduction, 18. XI. 1981.
[8] Mostar Diocesan Archive, Medjugorje Sources, Report of Fr. Vitomir Silić on Ivan Dragićević, of 20. III. 1984.
[9] Chronicle, vol. I., p. 241.
[10] Chronicle, vol. I., 14. IX. 1982., p. 253, Fr. Tomislav Vlašić writes: „Fr. Tomislav drove Ivan Dragićević and Miro Šego to the seminary at Dubrovnik”.
[11] Chronicle, vol. I., p. 314.
[12] cf. Chronicle, vol. I, 4.I. 1983, p. 349: „Ivan is a bad pupil… Slow by nature. I can’t say it as a moral designation. There’s something in him, which he’s immersed in, that ‘absorbs’ him.”; 6.III.1983, p. 402-403; 12. III. 1983, p. 407; 29. III.1983, p. 424.
[13] About this, see: Mirror of Truth, pp. 67-68.
[14] Chronicle, vol. III., p. 289.
[15] Chronicle, vol. III., 22. 3. 1985, p. 369. Fr. Slavko Barbarić notes: „Ivan left today for Makarska to take his exam at the private residential school. The purpose for this is the duty to finish at least something and get something in hand.”.
[16] Chronicle, vol. IV., p. 591.
[17] Chronicle, vol. IV., p. 648.
[18] J. Bouflet, Medjugorje ou la fabrication du surnaturel, Paris, 1999., pp. 185-188, reports all the trips of the “seers” of Medjugorje in the Western world from 1990 to 1998. Vicka made none during that span of time, 26.
[19] La Domenica del Corriere, 19. IX. 1981.
[20] R. Perić, „Međugorska ‘ukazanja’ i duhovna zvanja” (The “apparitions” of Medjugorje and spiritual vocations), in: Crkva na kamenu, 12/2002, p. 12.
[21] Chronicle, vol. I., p. 128.
[22] Mostar Diocesan Archive, Medjugorje Sources, The notebook of Vicka Ivanković from the first days of the apparitions. On the frontispiece is written: „Surname and name: Ivanković Vicka; profession: nun, place: Bijakovići; street and nr.: + + – – + Bijakovići – 79456; telephone: 86-637″.
[23] J. Bubalo, A Thousand Encounters with the Blessed Virgin Mary in Medjugorje, p. 149.
[24] Arena (Zagreb), 31. I. 2002.
[25] Mirror of Truth, p. 37.
[26] J. Bubalo, A Thousand Encounters with the Blessed Virgin Mary in Medjugorje, pp. 149 – 150.
[27] Chronicle, vol. III, p. 43.
[28] Chronicle, vol. III, p. 71.
[29] Chronicle, vol. III., p. 512.
[30] Chronicle, vol. IV., p. 832.
[31] Chronicle of the apparitions, vol. III., pp. 343-344.
[32] Chronicle, vol. IV., p. 583.
[33] Chronicle, vol. IV., p. 962.
[34] Chronicle, vol. IV., p. 932.
[35] Chronicle, vol. IV., p. 993.
[36] Chronicle, vol. IV., p. 995.
[37] Chronicle, vol. IV., p. 997.
[38] Chronicle, vol. IV., 14. XI. 1985., p. 1015.
[39] Chronicle, vol. VIII, p. 438.
[40] Mirror of Truth, p. 28.
[41] J. Bubalo, A Thousand Encounters with the Blessed Virgin Mary in Medjugorje, p. 149.
[42] Chronicle, vol. III., p. 34-35.
[43] Corriere della sera (Sette), 22. XI. 2001, p. 98.
[44] T. Vlašić, A Call in the Marian Year, Milan, 1988., para. 5: “On the vigil of the Immaculate Conception, December 7, 1986, while we prayed the rosary together and meditated on the joyful mysteries, Jesus gave Agnes a message, in which He announced the birth of a new community in which we must both give ourselves to God, like ‘Clare and Francis'”.
[45] Ibid, p. 6: “Among other things, I asked the Madonna through Marija Pavlović. Marija brought the answer of the Madonna on March 8, 1987: ‘This is a plan of God.'”
[46] Mirror of Truth, p. 30-31.
[47] R. Laurentin, Stella maris, 5/1994, p. 8.
[48] Mostar Diocesan Archive, Medjugorje Sources,  Decision of the Superior Tribunal of Mostar, 21. August 1990.
[49] Mirror of Truth, p. 36.
[50] About Ivanka, as otherwise in regard to Mirjana, Vicka states that the Gospa is not happy with their conduct. Thus in her conversation of October 1, 1981 she says to Fr. Tomislav that “…she does not appear often to Ivica and Mirjana as she does to the three of them (Marija, Jakov, and Vicka) because they are not dedicated at all. The Gospa admonishes them about this often. She expects them to dedicate themselves completely.”  In a marginal note, Fr. Tomislav writes: “I have checked the situation with Ivanka. She says the Gospa appears to her every day. I suppose that the conclusion which Vicka said is on account of Ivanka’s negligence in Vicka’s eyes.”  This is one of the many examples in which Vicka puts her personal thoughts and conclusions into the mouth of the “Gospa”. For Fr. Tomislav, obviously, this does not present any difficulty!  Chronicle, Beginnings, 1.X.1981.
[51] J. Bubalo, A Thousand Encounters with the Blessed Virgin Mary in Medjugorje, p. 149.
[52] M. Botta – L. Frigerio, Le apparizioni di Medjugorje, Pessano, 1984, p. 129.
[53] Mirror of Truth, p. 24.
[54] Chronicle, vol. I., p. 227.
[55] J. Bubalo, A Thousand Encounters with the Blessed Virgin Mary in Medjugorje, p. 149.
[56] Chronicle, vol. I., p. 348. The same day Fr. Tomislav spoke with Ivan Dragićević. He says: “Ivan confirmed to me what Vicka said about Mirjana. First, he is also convinced that the Gospa stopped appearing to her because of her behavior. He is the only one of the seers to whom the Gospa said something concrete before the new year about Mirjana and the ending of the apparitions. He says that the Gospa complained about her behavior. She said more or less: ‘Other than praying before the vision, she doesn’t pray for anything all day…. I give to each as they deserve.’  Ivan confided this only to Vicka and me. He doesn’t want to hear this everywhere or for bad voices to spread it.”  Chronicle, vol. I., pp. 349-350.