On this 18th of March, I had the honor of assisting Mirjana up the hill and kneeling beside her during the apparition—although I jokingly thanked her for helping me get up the hill.
For anyone skeptical about the apparitions, I wish they could have the chance to see and feel what I did. Their doubts would be wiped away in an instant. They would have no choice but to admit that they had witnessed a miracle—and although you can see it happen in our video, this miracle is often hidden in plain sight.
That’s why I’m compelled to share my experience with you now…
Mirjana prefers to experience the apparitions at the Blue Cross, located at the base of Apparition Hill, but that has more to do with everyone else than with herself.
She suffers from a knee and back condition which causes her severe pain when she climbs up the steep slope to reach the Blue Cross. Despite the pain, however, she is always determined to experience the apparition among the thousands of people who gather on the hill—unless the weather is too severe.
“How can I be with Blessed Mary alone at home when I look out and see all the pilgrims who come to Medjugorje seeking her?” she says.
Everyone in Medjugorje expected the March 18th apparition to happen in Mirjana’s home. The local weather forecast had been calling for heavy rain, which would have made the slippery rocks too dangerous to climb.
Surprisingly, however, the weather was sunny and unseasonably warm in the hours leading up to 2 PM, the approximate time at which Mirjana expected Our Lady to appear to her.
At around 1:30 PM, Mirjana left her home and made her way through the crowd of pilgrims, eventually coming to the base of Apparition Hill. She had asked me to come with her—and of course I didn’t hesitate.
My co-filmmaker, Cimela Kidonakis, was already at the Blue Cross with her camera, ready to film the apparition, along with our group of pilgrims who had traveled with us from the USA. Our guide, Miki Musa, was also there with his notebook ready to translate the message, and the amazing people from Foto Dani—the local video and photo team that documents all that happens in Medjugorje—were busy capturing the moment.
I walked by Mirjana’s side so she could lean on me whenever it got difficult. Like always, people were shouting her name, but on this particular day they were also wishing her a happy birthday in many different languages. “Buon compleanno!” “Sretan rodendan!” “Feliz cumpleanos!”
The pain intensified in her knees and back as she ascended the steep, rocky path, getting worse with each step, and yet she still paused to smile at the eager pilgrims as she went. I’m always amazed at Mirjana’s love for the pilgrims. She stopped to greet some of them on her way, especially the sick and disabled.
As we reached flatter ground and began making our way through the crowd, an Italian man bent down and kissed her hand.
“Please, no!” she said with a smile, pulling her hand away. She immediately put her hands on each side of the man’s face, pulled him closer, and kissed his cheek. He seemed shocked, but I believe he understood the message that Mirjana wanted to convey—that if anyone deserved a sign of gratitude, it was him and all the other pilgrims who had traveled so far to be there.
By the time we reached the Blue Cross, Mirjana was trembling in pain and her knees were so weak that she could hardly kneel. With the side of my arm touching hers, I could feel her shaking uncontrollably because of the pain and weakness in her knees. I worried that she might collapse at any moment.
But then, suddenly, Mirjana drew a deep breath; she immediately stopped shaking and her entire body straightened. The apparition had begun, and Mirjana was clearly in another world, totally free of all earthly pain.
I, too, could sense that a beautiful presence had descended among us—but one only needed to look at Mirjana’s sudden transition and the tears of joy now streaming down her face to see that she was experiencing something miraculous.
For the next several minutes, Mirjana did not tremble once. But as soon as Our Lady departed, Mirjana’s pain suddenly returned and her body immediately slumped backward. Afraid she was falling, I quickly tried to brace her, but she stayed upright and slowly lowered herself to the ground.
Mirjana says that she although feels no pain when she is seeing Our Lady, it all comes rushing back in the moment the apparition ends—and it’s even worse than before because by then she has been kneeling for so long.
When doctors, friends, and family members have suggested that she not kneel during the apparition, however, Mirjana just laughs it off.
“How can I not kneel in front of Blessed Mary?” she says. “It’s not possible.”
Mirjana sat for a moment and tried to regain her composure, and eventually she was helped to a nearby stone bench where she dictated Our Lady’s message to Miki (see below). It was a beautiful and complex message, offering a glimpse into the Blessed Mother’s life on earth.
Her life here was “simple,” she said, adding that she “loved life” and “rejoiced in small things” despite the suffering she experienced. It was her strong faith and “boundless trust in God’s love” which helped her overcome the pains of her earthly life.
This part of the message could also describe Mirjana. She aims to transmit God’s love despite her pain and sufferings, and it’s her faith that sustains her. One can see it in her selfless choice to be out among the people for the apparitions, and in the many other ways she lives as an example of a woman who knows God’s love.
Our Lady’s messages have an interesting way of being personal to each reader while speaking to all of humanity at the same time. The same would hold true for Mirjana, who would not have been able to climb and kneel if not for her “strength of faith.” But, in her message, Our Lady reminds Mirjana—and all of us—that “every pain has its end.”
As Mirjana tried to make her way home through the crowd of pilgrims—handing out blessed rosaries to the sick and pausing to smile or hug some of the pilgrims—a person reached out and grabbed her hand with such force that it caused her knees to buckle. The person clenched Mirjana’s hand harder and twisted it back before the local men who volunteer to protect her finally freed her hand. Mirjana has to wear a splint on her thumb for the time being.
“My children, your battle is difficult,” Our Lady said in her message that day, adding that it would get even more difficult.
Still, despite the unfortunate incident, Mirjana says that Our Lady wants us to focus on hope, not despair, and she calls us her “apostles of love.”
It’s because of God’s love, says Mirjana, that Our Lady has been appearing here in Medjugorje—a small village in a remote part of the same planet upon which she walked some two thousand years ago. She comes, in part, to encourage us, which is evident in the final words of her March 18th message.
“With immeasurable motherly love,” said Our Lady, “I am caressing your souls.”