The Miracle of Medjugorje

The Miracle of Medjugorje

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Stories of Faith

The Miracle of Medjugorje

To the immigrant who comes on dreams and bears the mirror
that reflects us all. Keep faith—this place is capable of miracles.

~Lindalee Tracey, A Scattering of Seeds

Mom always had a great devotion to the Virgin Mary. She didn’t believe that Mary could answer prayers, but that she was an intercessor to her son, Jesus. While my mom was raising eight kids, she likely thought she needed all the interceding she could get!

Each of us had a rosary, and my mother taught us to say the Hail Mary on each bead. A statue of the Blessed Virgin sat prominently on the buffet, and fresh flowers adorned her, especially in May.

Mom read us stories of how Mary had appeared to a young girl in Lourdes, France, and to children in Guadalupe, Mexico. Then in the 1980s, Mom told her then-grown children new accounts of Mary appearing to youngsters in Medjugorje, Bosnia. Intrigued by the modern-day miracle, my mom bought books about it, subscribed to the Medjugorje magazine, attended seminars on the topic—and bought a ticket to Bosnia.

I’ve always said that my mother was eighty going on fifty. In spite of several old fractures, numerous surgeries and a mild heart condition, she taught religious education classes, gave slide show presentations of her safari to Africa and drove “old people” to their doctors’ appointments.

“I don’t know if I can climb the mountain,” my mom said, “but I just want to go. I can’t explain it—I just need to go. And I’m not going so I can ask for a miracle,” she added emphatically.

But many who went, did. There were hundreds of accounts of miraculous healings and faith conversions at Medjugorje.

Her tour group arrived in Medjugorje late one damp November night. The next morning, they learned their scheduled trek had been postponed, due to the rain and slippery slopes. One younger man who had made the trip twice before, said he could wait no longer—he was climbing the mile-long mountain path right then. My mother said, “Me, too.”

So with a pin in her ankle, five metal rods in her back and a song in her heart, my mom set off for the climb. She was surprised to see the trail was only jagged rocks. Step by cautious step, she hiked upward—past a woman even older than she, kneeling in prayerful meditation, and past a half-dozen rowdy ten-year-old boys, running and yelping with joy. Soon they raced ahead of her and later she came upon them again, kneeling in quiet prayer.

Within two hours, my mother stood in wonder and awe at the top of the mountain, on the very site the Virgin had appeared. She knelt in the sprinkling rain and did what she always did—she prayed for her children.

The trek down was even more difficult than the ascent. Each step on the rugged rocks jarred her as she struggled to find stable footing. The rain intensified as they wound their way through the foreign streets. Mom returned to the group, soaking wet but marveling that, not only had she made the climb, she had done so without her usual pain. “Maybe that was the miracle,” she mused.

The next day was just another day in war-torn Bosnia, but it was Thanksgiving Day in the States—and the tour guide had a plan to make it a day of thanksgiving in Medjugorje, too. On every tour, the staff purchased and distributed groceries and supplies to the most needy in the community. All of the dozen members of my mother’s tour group readily offered to contribute to the fund and help with the deliveries.

Their large bus stopped at the grocery store where the ordered bags of goods were loaded into the back. Carefully, the group counted the twenty-four, garbage-sized bags. Local church and government officials had made a list of those in most desperate need, and the bus headed off to share thanksgiving with them.

The first stop was a shanty with the roof partially blown off. Mom and her new friends filed past damaged household furniture sitting on the dirt lawn and entered the one room the family of four occupied. Laughing, smiling and crying, the old couple accepted the food and supplies. Two young boys in clean ragged clothes chattered their gratitude, while their toddler brother clung to his grandma’s leg, whining and fussing. Their parents had been tortured and killed by the enemy, the tour guide explained. Yet the family jubilantly hugged my mom and her crew goodbye as they headed off to the next stop.

The bus driver seemed to have the route and stops memorized from the many trips before. At the next run-down house, a wrinkled old woman in a headscarf stood waving from her cluttered front porch. As the group entered, she placed her hands on each of their faces and kissed them, one by one, thanking them in her native tongue. Inside she gathered them in one of the two rooms left standing in her once-three bedroom home. There she prayed, not for herself, but for her guests.

The driver stopped next at a ramshackle house at the end of a lane, and before the tour guide could say, “They aren’t on our list this time,” a man and two young boys raced toward the bus clapping for joy. At the directive of the tour guide, the bus pulled away.

“Can’t we please leave them some food,” my mother politely protested as she looked back at the family waving sadly.

“We only had twenty-four bags to start with,” the guide explained, her voice thick with sorrow. “We have other families waiting for these—we promised them.”

The team sat, despondent, until the driver stopped at yet another war-damaged home. A couple who looked years older than my mom were caring for two grown sons, each suffering from a wasting muscular disease. Yet their faith and joy exceeded even that of the team as they crowded the entire group into their tiny kitchen to pray—then insisted that they all share in the food the old woman had prepared for them.

And so went the day, house after house, family after family, each physically destitute and spiritually wealthy.

“That’s twenty-four!” the guide said as she checked the last name off the list after the final stop.

“No, twenty-three,” someone corrected. “There is one bag of food left.”

Dumbfounded, the group looked in the back of the bus to see one lone bag of food.

“We all counted the bags and the people on the list three times,” one member said breathlessly.

“There was no error,” the guide said. Then, smiling, she asked, “Are there loaves and fish in that bag?”

The entire team stared at each other—first in confusion, then in awe, then in elation. They cheered, “Let’s go!”

The bus returned to the ramshackle house at the end of the lane, and the man and two boys raced out, as if they were expecting them.

~LeAnn Thieman

Chicken Soup for the Christian Woman’s Soul

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