by Marco Corvaglia
In September 1981 it was rumoured through the village that, near Medjugorje, an unidentified driver had been the protagonist of a, by the way, unoriginal story, that was, as noted by Joachim Bouflet in his book Faussaires de Dieu, the repetition of a pious legend common in European folklore for centuries.
The issue concerns us because the locals asked Vicka to ask the Virgin if the fact was true.
Vicka herself, in the well-known interview-book with Father Bubalo, declared it:
VICKA: Someone told us to ask the Virgin if that was the way it was.
[Janko Bubalo, A Thousand Encounters with the Blessed Virgin Mary in Medjugorje. The Seer Vicka Speaks of Her Experiences, Friends of Medjugorje, Chicago, 1987, p. 92]
The story in brief is this: a taxi driver, like Vicka reports, "was returning to Medjugorje when, somewhere in Cerno some poor man stopped the car" [Ibid., p. 91, therefore, the "seer" presents it as a real and concrete fact].
That man was Jesus, who gave the driver a bloody handkerchief and told him to throw it into the river.
Going on, the same taxi driver met the Madonna, who got the man to give her the bloody handkerchief and then told him that if he had instead thrown it into the river, there would have been the end of the world.
Well, according to Vicka, the Madonna confirmed that the fact had actually occurred this way [see also Ogledalo Pravde. Biskupski ordinarijat u Mostaru o navodnim ukazanjima i porukama u Međugorju (The Diocesan Curia of Mostar on the Alleged Apparitions and Messages of Medjugorje), Mostar, 2001, p. 110]
Indeed, let us look at the diary of the "seer" [first book], on 4 September 1981.
Here are the pages related to the issue:
[Transcription: 72. ukazanje. PETAK, 4. 9. '81 god. Danas smo čekali kod Marije Gospu. Ja, Marija, Ivanka i Jakov smo počeli moliti u 6 i 20 min. Došla je Gospa odmah. […] Pitali smo za čovjeka koji je sreo Isusa u putu kada je razvozio narod svojim putem. Sreo je jednog čovjeka svog u krvi i dao mu je taj čovjek a on je bio Isus maramicu krvavu i rekao da je baci u rijeku. Vozeći dulje sreo je jednu ženu a to je bila Blažena Djevica Marija i Ona je molila čovjeka da mu da krvavu maramicu. Čovjek joj je pružio svoju maramicu ali Gospa je tražila krvavu. Kad joj je čovjek davo krvavu Gospa je rekla: Da mi je nisi dao, bio bi strašni sud. Gospa je rekla da je to istina.]
72nd apparition. Friday 4. 9. '81.
Today we have waited for the Virgin at Marija’s. Marija, Ivanka, Jakov and I have begun to pray at 6 and 20 minutes. Our Lady has come soon.
We asked about the man who met Jesus on the road while driving some people to their destination. He met a man covered with blood and that man (he was Jesus) gave him the bloody handkerchief and told him to throw it into the river. Going on, he met a woman and she was the Blessed Virgin Mary and she asked the man to give her the bloody handkerchief. The man offered his handkerchief, but Our Lady asked for the bloody one.
When the man gave her the bloody one, Mary said: If you had not given it to me, there would have been the end of the world.
Our Lady said that this was the truth.
Vicka confirmed also in the interview-book:
FATHER JANKO: Did he Virgin respond?
VICKA: She said that it did actually happen more or less as related. And the poor man was her Son, and that the the woman in black was she.
[Janko Bubalo, A Thousand Encounters with the Blessed Virgin Mary in Medjugorje. The Seer Vicka Speaks of Her Experiences, Friends of Medjugorje, Chicago, 1987, p. p. 92]
As mentioned, the story actually is, with few adaptations, an ancient legend that has been circulating in Europe for centuries.
The first reliable attestation is found in the Croniche (“Chronicles") written in the fifteenth century by the Italian Giovanni Sercambi, where a very similar story is told, not about a handkerchief, but about some loaves.
Let us read a passage, translated from the ancient Italian:
While in those areas of England there was a great war [...] Christ, in the guise of a pilgrim, appeared to a farmer intent on working [...] He said to the worker: Go near to the piece of land that you work, and put these breads in the source you'll find there [...] The farmer wanted to put the bread in that spring, but the Virgin Mary, in the guise of an honest woman, approached him [...] She said: Go and tell that man that I, his mother, have not wanted you to put these breads in the spring [...] I want you to know that the man who came to you is Christ, my son, and I am the Virgin Mary, his mother. And I tell you that if I had let you put the bread in the source, the whole world would have been destroyed.
[Giovanni Sercambi, Le Croniche, vol. II, Giusti, Rome, 1892, pp. 291-293]
Published on 3 January 2009