Medjugorje is an extraordinary oasis of peace

Fr Martin Delaney reflects on his experiences of the revered shrine

Fr Martin Delaney

JUNE 25 marks the 34th anniversary of the first reported apparitions of Our Lady to six children in the little Bosnian town of Medjugorje. The Vatican has yet to give official recognition to the Marian Shrine, but millions of pilgrims from all over the world including many from Ireland make the journey on a regular basis.

My knowledge of Medjugorje goes back to my student days at the Pontifical Irish College in Rome in the mid-1980s. One evening at Mass, there was a visiting priest and somebody pointed out to me that he was from Yugoslavia. Six children in his parish claimed that Our Lady was appearing to them daily. Crowds were descending on his parish, the local communist authorities were very hostile and he had no idea what to do about the situation.

Then I can recall a few students and visiting priests treking off to this remote outpost and returning with extraordinary stories of the sun dancing, primitive accommodation and daily messages from Mary to these young children who refused to flinch from their story.

To be honest, as an idealistic young cleric I dismissed these tales as fanciful and placed them in the same file as the saga of the moving statues in Ireland in the summer of 1985!

I did not think much more about Medjugorje until sometime in the mid-1990s when I attended the intercession for priests in All Hallows College in Dublin. I went to Confession and during that encounter the confessor strongly suggested that I should go to Medjugorje on pilgrimage.

When I mentioned this to a few friends they all wondered what terrible things I had confessed which brought on such a ‘demanding’ penance! I resisted carrying out the confessor’s suggestion but every so often something niggled at me that I should go.

The opportunity arose in 2007 when a friend in Kilkenny asked me to come with her group on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje.

I have recently returned from my third visit to Medjugorje. The children are now adults and most of them are married with families. Some of them claim that Mary still appears to them on a daily basis. I have no reason to doubt their claims but that is not what draws me to this little Bosnian town. I simply love the place.

It is an extraordinary oasis of peace, prayer, reflection and conversion. As a priest-pilgrim, I have been privileged to celebrate reconciliation and healing with countless people and the focus on the Eucharist has strengthened my faith in ways I could not have imagined.

Whether it was a penance or merely an invitation all those years ago in All Hallows, I’m very grateful!


An Irish blessing

The blessing in the Roman Missal for the feast of St Columba (Columcille) was particularly beautiful and so I thought I would share it with you here:

May the Lord be a sure path beneath your feet,

A bright light before you,

A kindly shepherd behind you;

This day, this night and always.



Out of the mouths of babes: The teacher in Errill national school in Co. Laois was showing his class the picture of US President Barack Obama (pictured) meeting Pope Francis at the Vatican on the classroom white board. “Which of these two men is the most powerful?” he asked. One child answered: “Sir, I don’t think it’s either of them, it’s the man hanging on the cross on the wall behind them.”