11/14 – happy birthday Lauren! Love you!
Today is warm and sunny, a total contrast to yesterday’s grey skies. Shirtsleeve weather, no jackets required. My hip is still troubling me, but improved since yesterday. I plan to take it easy today.
After breakfast, we walked the half mile to St. James Church, in the middle of Medjugorje. This very modern church was built prior to the start of the apparitions in 1981. It is said that the building of the church, way too large for the size of the small town at the time, and it’s dedication to James, the patron saint of pilgrims, are part of the miracles of this place.
Inside, a mass was in progress in English, with folk guitar accompaniment. The church is very plain, with arched windows and an arch over the altar, but no large crucifix or statuary. There is a Mary chapel off to one side, adorned with many flowers.
Behind the church is an outdoor amphitheater with a Jumbotron and seating for thousands. This was added once pilgrims started coming in large numbers, following the Bosnian War in the early 90s.
There are gardens behind the church with Stations of the Cross and walking paths with mosaics of the life of Jesus. Walking, praying and quiet contemplation are encouraged.
Water seeps from the knee of this statue, erected in 1998, considered to be a miracle of this place. You can see where the color of the metal has changed from all the hands that touch this knee. People leave pictures and written prayer requests at the foot of the statue. Yes, we saw water seeping from the statue.
On Friday afternoons, the faithful climb Cross Mountain, where they observe the Stations of the Cross. The large, concrete cross was erected in the 1930s, and is not connected to the apparitions, but the erection of the cross in this town is said to be part of the miracle of this place.
Unlike Lourdes, which caters to the wheelchair-bound, Medjugorje pilgrims must be fit. It is a two mile walk to the base of the mountain, and a steep, rocky climb to the top, which is more than my hip will allow me to do today, so Jim goes up alone. Some of the faithful go up barefoot, and many kneel on the jagged rocks at every station.
Here are Jim’s pix from the top of the mountain.