In his block buster bestselling book, Proof of Heaven, an autobiographical account of a near death experience, Harvard University neurosurgeon Dr. Eben Alexander writes about “journeys” to another realm, encountering love ones after death, and meeting a beautiful lady in “Heaven”. With the Virgin Mary and Medjugorje in the back of my mind, as I read the doctor’s account of going to “Heaven”, I was astonished by the similarities of the doctor’s testimony with the statements made by the Medjugorje visionaries about Heaven and the after-life. Dr. Eben Alexander writes:
It gets stranger still. For most of my journey, someone else was with me. A woman. She was young, and I remember what she looked like in complete detail. She had high cheekbones and deep-blue eyes. Golden brown tresses framed her lovely face. When first I saw her, we were riding along together on an intricately patterned surface, which after a moment I recognized as the wing of a butterfly. In fact, millions of butterflies were all around us—vast fluttering waves of them, dipping down into the woods and coming back up around us again. It was a river of life and color, moving through the air. The woman’s outfit was simple, like a peasant’s, but its colors—powder blue, indigo, and pastel orange-peach—had the same overwhelming, super-vivid aliveness that everything else had. She looked at me with a look that, if you saw it for five seconds, would make your whole life up to that point worth living, no matter what had happened in it so far. It was not a romantic look. It was not a look of friendship. It was a look that was somehow beyond all these, beyond all the different compartments of love we have down here on earth. It was something higher, holding all those other kinds of love within itself while at the same time being much bigger than all of them.
Without using any words, she spoke to me. The message went through me like a wind, and I instantly understood that it was true. I knew so in the same way that I knew that the world around us was real—was not some fantasy, passing and insubstantial… “Then the blinders came off and [revealed] this crisp, ultra-real gateway with beautiful butterflies and flowers, with souls dancing and angels above me. There were colors beyond the rainbow and butterflies appeared repeatedly.”
Dr. Alexander’s words are illuminating and hopeful, but for those who are familiar with the descriptions of Heaven and the Virgin Mary, reading Dr. Alexander’s encounter with the beautiful women from Heaven, it seems apparent, immediately, the doctor was met by the Virgin Mary as he travelled into the after-life. .” Importantly, Alexander’s NDE experience of encountering the Virgin Mary is far from unprecedented – the boy, with protestant roots, who inspired the book Heaven is for Real says, without hesitation, he saw Virgin Mary after he “died” sitting right beside her son Jesus Christ.
It is well known that veterans of near death experiences describe Heaven as a place of unsurpassed beauty that cannot be described in human terms and that the after-life is filled with loving beings, but what is less well known is that there exists a long history of testimony by “seers” of the Virgin Mary who claim to have the same “visions” of Heaven while fully conscious and importantly – alive. Today, visionaries of the Virgin Mary from Medjugorje claim they experience the after-life –some daily- and their description of what they see is surprisingly similar to those made my NDE survivors. Daniel Klimek, an international expert on Medjugorje, writes about the realm from which the Virgin Mary comes from and the words seem like they could have been pulled right from the many accounts of NDE testimonies. Klimek says, “Heaven, according to the Medjugorje visionaries, is a huge place of great lights, beauty, and immense joy. Meadows, mountains, hills, beautiful countryside are all present; people possess an inner light, a serene joy radiates from their presence.”
From Dr. Alexander’s passage, we can clearly see that he experienced something special and vividly beautiful, but what stands out is the captivating encounter he had with the woman he met in Heaven. He says that that the woman in Heaven had high-cheek bones and wore a simple outfit “like a peasant’s” and that her garments were blue and indigo. Not much has been made in the press about the doctor’s encounter with the woman, but Alexander’s tour of Heaven taken with the beautiful lady dressed like a “peasant” brings to mind the real possibility that he had been accompanied by the Virgin Mary. The description of the woman – her appearance, her beauty, the way she dressed, all sound like the doctor is describing the Virgin Mary that the visionaries from Medjugorje claim to see. When describing the Virgin Mary’s outfit, the visionaries say she wears simple clothes – peasant garments except on Christmas when she comes with more formal gold and red celebratory clothes. According to the official Medjugorje site, the most successful inquirer of the visionaries is author, Fr. Janko Bubalo, a Franciscan of the Hercegovinian province. The priest asked Medjugorje visionary Vicka to describe the Virgin Mary’s outfit. . “How is your Madonna dressed?”
“She is clothed in a simple woman’s dress.”
“What color is her dress?”
“Her dress is grey – maybe a little bluish-grey.”
As we can see the clothes of the Virgin Mary are simple and plain and their colors are grey and blue like the beautiful woman that met Dr. Alexander, but the hues of her garments have been described as otherworldly and the light surrounding the Virgin Mary is not known on earth.
Vicka was asked, in a separate interview, about the appearance of the Virgin Mary by author Krešimir Šego in terms of her “beauty”. Sego conducted an extensive interview with Vicka which was published in his book Time of Grace. It is interesting to note how Vicka’s words echo Doctor Alexander’s colorful description of the woman he met in Heaven.
“Is Our Lady as beautiful as you visionaries say she is?”
“Well, really we haven’t told you anything about that – her beauty cannot be described – it is not our kind of beauty – that is something ethereal -something heavenly – something that we’ll only see in Paradise – and then only to a certain degree.
At a Marian Peace conference in 2009, Visionary Mirjana commented on the Virgin Mary’s beauty as well:
“That is not only superficial beauty that you see from outside. That is something that is radiating out of her. As children, we asked Our Lady a childish question. We said, how come that you are so beautiful? She said “I am beautiful because I love”. And she said “My children, if you want to be that beautiful, then love”. At that time when that apparition happened, Jakov was only nine and a half years old. So when Our Lady left, he said, (to us) “I think that she wasn’t saying the truth.” We all said: “How can you dare to say that our heavenly Mother is not saying the truth?” He said, “yes, but look at us visionaries, some of us can love until the end of our loves but we’ll never be as beautiful as she.”