Marija: We were ready to be martyrs
Persecuted by Communist rulers, the Medjugorje visionaries were ready for martyrdom when the Virgin Mary first appeared to them in 1981, visionary Marija Pavlovic-Lunetti recounts 31 years later. She encouraged us, prayed with us and said we should offer our suffering, Marija tells.
Severe threats from the ruling Communists of ex-Yugoslavia made the Medjugorje visionaries think of martyrdom when the Virgin Mary started her apparitions these days 31 years ago. And the seers were ready to accept it, visionary Marija Pavlovic-Lunetti told Radio Maria on Monday, the 31st anniversary day.
“We would think “how long will we live? They might kill us”. But we were ready to be martyrs” Marija said in her conversation with Radio Maria director Fr. Livio Fanzaga.
- You saw her for the first time on June 25th 1981. How did it happen that you were present?
“The day before she had appeared to others. On June 25 my parents were scared as we still had communism, and Tito had died only one year before. The Communists wanted to keep the system going” Marija recounted.
“My parents took my sister far away in the fields as an excuse to keep her away. I was to prepare the evening meal. Vicka, Mirjana, Ivanka, and Ivan came by and felt the need to go back, but they did not know if she was going to appear again. Jakov was helping me, and we said “let’s go too.”
“She appeared but not with baby Jesus as before, lifting the blanket to attract us. She saw us and asked to go up and said to celebrate June 25 as the anniversary “because your group came close to me on the 25th.”
- Then you had an apparition alone on the 26th.
“That is true. June 26 was a day full of commotion: we could not sleep, we wondered “why us?”. Halfway down the hill she appeared again with a big Cross behind her and saying: “Peace, peace, peace, between man and God. Peace in the hearts of mankind.”
“Then she said that she had come under the title of The Queen of Peace, and told us that real peace comes from God through prayer. She invited us to pray for peace. Peace in our hearts, in our countries, in the whole world.”
- Going back to your parents who were worried about your sister Milka; you had a big role in the first days. What did your parents think then?
“They were quiet as you could not “play games” with God. We were all in families who prayed daily, at least grandma. We tried to live as Christians, and attend Sunday Mass.”
“They were shocked that we were visionaries and wondered why us. They were worried due to the violent communism but we were strong due to our prayer. My father would say “If God wants this, He will provide.”
- When we look at the parents of Saint Bernadette of Lourdes and the Fatima visionaries, the parents would beat their children and call them liars. On the other hand, your parents protected you despite the communist threats?
“As much as they could. Once the Communists took us away to an insanity asylum at Mostar in an ambulance, telling us we would wind up there too. Think of our parents at that moment. Ivan’s mom was crying and still had her hands dirty from tobacco harvesting. Vicka’s father was in Germany.”
– What was Our Lady saying at the time?
“She would encourage us, pray with us, and remind us that we should offer our own sufferings as Jesus suffered. He can use them to convert souls” Marija told Radio Maria on June 25.
- She said you will be able to resist it all.
“True, and she would remind us that our real life begins in eternity; this time is in passing.”
Antonio Miraldi transcribed and translated from Italian