The visionaries are normal and healthy

The visionaries of Medjugorje are by far the most scientifically examined seers ever in the history of Christian mysticism. The decade-long duration of the apparitions, along with the modern advancements in medical-scientific knowledge and equipment, have allowed doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists and physicians, to study the visionaries and their apparitions as closely and accurately as never before.

Among the many tests and examinations that the visionaries have subjected themselves to, four major ones stand out. Performed by independent teams of scientists in 1984, 1985, 1998 and 2006 their results confirm and complement each other.

The visionaries have reacted to the scientific interest in their experiences by willful cooperation, but also with a spirit of detachment. Only one among the many scientific conclusions has really meant something to them – namely the conclusion that they are absolutely healthy, normal people who only happen to have a most  unusual experience.

The first doctor to arrive at this conclusion was psychiatrist Dzudza Mulija. This she did as early as June 29th 1981, the sixth day of the apparitions. She worked in the psychiatric wing of the hospital in Mostar and met the visionaries when local Communist police officers brought them to see her. She was referring to the Communists when, according to visionary Vicka Ivankovic, she ended her examinations by telling the seers:

“It is the people who brought you here that are insane. You are absolutely normal.” (1)

Next in line was Dr. Nikola Bartulica, a psychiatrist who was born in Croatia, but lived in the United States when he came to Medjugorje in October 1981 and later in 1989. During his first encounter with the visionaries he studied Vicka for almost two hours, all the while Vicka did not know that her conversation partner was a medical specialist.

“When a psychiatrist hears that a person has visions, he first wonders if that person is mentally healthy. So I asked Vicka what did she see, hear, how did she react. She answered spontaneously, without fear or hesitation, and you could see that this was a determined, completely normal persoon. In psychiatry, you can quickly determine if a person is sincere”, Dr. Bartulica later concluded. (2)

Talking about all of the visionaries, the Croatian psychiatrist added:

“It does not take an expert though to tell that the children were normal, sincere, and that their experience was not invented.” (2)

The Italian doctor Lucia Capello examined the visionaries for three days in February and March 1984.

“They appeared to be discreet, well-mannered, careful in their dress and in their speech and absolutely mindful of the surroundings in which they found themselves. Their behavior seemed to conform perfectly with that of young people of their own age”, she concluded. (1)

In 1998 the third major scientific examination of the Medjugorje visionaries and their apparitions was undertaken by a team of Austrian and Italian experts headed by Fr. Andreas Resch, an Austrian priest and professor of clinical psychology and paranormology at the Pontificial Lateran University in Rome. Fr. Resch and his team concluded that “the seers enjoy optimal psychophysical health”.

Referring to the state of complete disconnection from the outside world that the visionaries enter during apparitions, a condition known throughout Christian history as spiritual ecstacy, the team concluded that “ecstacy is not a psychopathologic event and that after 18 years of daily apparitions it has not provoked any damage to the psychophysical health of the seers”. (3)

In other ways, too, the so-called Medjugorje 3 Commission confirmed the conclusions of the first scientific commission that studied the Medjugorje visionaries.  This group of scientists was headed by the French doctor Henri Joyeux who brought to Medjugorje a crew of medical specialists along with a battery of modern equipment back in 1984. Theirs was the first among the four major medical-scientific examinations of the Medjugorje visionaries.

“The visionaries are psychologically healthy, without neurosis and hysteria. Their ecstacies are not a pathological phenomenon. (…) It is a functinal phenomenon that facilitates a valuable experience which is coherent, healthy, enlivening and, to the visionaries, human as well as spiritual”, Dr. Joyeux wrote in conclusion. (1)

“They are country youngsters who do not appear to need either a psychologist or a psychiatrist. They dress in the normal fashion of other young people of their country. They give no impresssion of being bigoted, each seeming to have his or her own personality; we felt at ease with all of them: they are neither geniuses nor simpletons; they are not being manipulated but remain free and healthy in mind and body”, Dr. Henri Joyeux also wrote. (1)

“The phenomenon is scientifically inexplicable. The visionaries of Medjugorje are not drop-outs or dreamers, nor are they tired or anxious; they are free and happy, at home in their country and in the modern world. The ecstacies are not pathological, nor is there any element of deceit”, Dr. Joyeux later said before concluding:

“No scientific discipline seems able to describe these phenomena”. (4)

Though this is so, the many scientists have long been able to point out with certainty what the apparitions in Medjugorje are not about. That is: The alternative explanations known to science have all been ruled out.

Sources:
(1) Dr. Henri Joyeux and Fr. René Laurentin: “Scientific and Medical Studies of the Apparitions at Medjugorje”, Veritas Publications 1987
(2) Medjugorje Tribune # 1, January 2007
(3) Paul Baylis with Dr. Marco Margnelli: “The works of the third committee on the seers of Medjugorje”, quoted here from Marian Times
(4) Mary Craig: “Spark From Heaven”, Ave Maria Press 1988