The Hill of Disappearances
by Marco Corvaglia
The most reasonable conclusion to which the investigators have come is that these pilgrims, all foreigners, who proceeded alone or in pairs, lost their way in the vegetation, particularly dense in summer. Consequently, it is to be deemed probable that they died of starvation and thirst.
The search of the missing was in vain and their remains were later accidentally discovered, mostly after months or years.
The bodies, as far as their state of preservation allowed, bore no signs of violence and, in more than one case, money was found upon them, which excludes the motive of robbery.
Here is a brief summary (after each mentioned case, some documentary sources are listed):
Medjugorje pilgrims on the "Hill of Apparitions"
There is no reason to think of mysterious causes, but the datum, little known among the faithful, remains impressive: several Medjugorje pilgrims have disappeared on Podbrdo (commonly called "Hill of Apparitions") and then were found dead there or on the surrounding hills. It is the place where, according to the seers, there were the first apparitions and where, again acording to them, the great Sign, linked to the so-called “third secret”, has been expected to appear since the early 80’s.
Father Franz Lachinger
Franz Lachinger, a sixty-four-year-old Viennese priest, went to Medjugorje with his seventy-two-year-old housekeeper, named Herta Brixler. The two disappeared on Podbrdo on 21 May 2001. Their car (a Peugeot 206) was found at the foot of the hill. Searches were assigned to more than 100 local police officers and soldiers of the NATO SFOR (Stabilisation Force), but all this was of no avail. Only a year and a half later, on 14 December 2002, a hunter from Šurmanci, Tomo Beno, found the remains of the two, about a hundred meters away from each other.
[ - Daily paper “Slobodna Dalmacija”, Pet tisuća maraka za informacije o dvoje nestalih odočasnika, 19 Aug 2001- Press Agency “Ika” (Informativna Catolička Agencija), U Mostaru identificiran leš bečkog redovnika, 28 Jan 2003- Daily paper “Wiener Zeitung”, Leichenfund in Medjugorje, 29 Jan 2003- Daily paper “Der Standard”, Vermisster Geistlicher und Hausälterin identifiziert, 29 Jan 2003 ]
In the summer of 2003, two residents of Čitluk, Andro and Ivan Ćorić, father and son, accidentally found (not on Podbrdo but on a near mount, that is another "must" for the pilgrims who go to Medjugorje, the Križevac) the body of an Austrian pilgrim, who had died more than a year earlier: Hedvig Witek-Hotar, 78 years old.
[ - Online paper “Izvor - Centar za istraživačko novinarstvo”, U potrazi za Bogom, hodočasnici se izgube u Međugorju, 16 Dec 2006
- Daily paper “Slobodna Dalmacija”, Šestero hodočasnika našlo smrt u brdim, 10 Jan 2007
- Weekly magazine “Start”, Smrt vreba u šikari, No 213, 6 Feb 2007 ]
In the same year, a German pilgrim, a professional mountaineer, found in a ravine of the zone a pilgrim, resident in Austria, who had disappeared nine months earlier: Franzisa Motika, 41 years old.
[ - Daily paper “Slobodna Dalmacija”, Šestero hodočasnika našlo smrt u brdim, 10 Jan 2007
- Weekly magazine “Start”, Smrt vreba u šikari, No 213, 6 Feb 2007 ]
Father Vico Cazzaniga
The Italian priest Lodovico (Vico) Cazzaniga from Lomagna (near Lecco), 74, disappeared on Podbrdo on 3 July 2003. His car, a Fiat Punto, was found at the foot of the hill, with no signs of forced entry. His remains were found on 8 December 2005 by a Medjugorje stepherd, Milenko Kale Vasilj.
[ - Daily paper “Slobodna Dalmacija", Ne pomažu ni lovci, 12 Jul 2003- Weekly magazine “Il nostro tempo”, Don Vico Cazzaniga disperso sul colle di Medjugorje, No 28, 20 Jul 2003- Merate Online Lomagna: due iniziative per ricordare don Vico, scomparso 10 anni fa, 10 Dec 2013 ]
On 14 August 2006, the pilgrim Anita Visković, 51, from Gradac (Croatia), disappeared on Podbrdo. She has never been found. Here is an identification photo of this "missing person" (nestala osoba), in a document released by the Croatian Ministry of the Interior:
[ - Online paper “Izvor - Centar za istraživačko novinarstvo”, U potrazi za Bogom, hodočasnici se izgube u Međugorju, 16 Dec 2006- Weekly magazine "Start”, Smrt vreba u šikari, No 213, 6 Feb 2007 ]
On 6 September 2006, on Podbrdo, the Irish pilgrim, Winifred (Winnie) Mary Brady, 59, from Dublin, disappeared from Podbrdo.The search was assigned in vain to 200 men.Later, a hunter, Vidan Kozina, accidentally found the remains of the woman, at the beginning of January 2007. With her was her camera, containing pictures of her last moments of life. She took, being flat, two photos of her swollen and bloodied left leg.
The two last photographs taken by Winifred (Winnie) Mary Brady. The images are taken from of the number 213, of 6 February 2007, of the Sarajevo magazine "Start".
The journalist of the weekly “Start”, Ekrem Tinjak, wrote: "It is not completely clear whether with this she wanted to show that she had been bitten by a snake or something else. Due to the condition of her body, pathologists were unable to establish whether there was a snake bite."
In this video, RTÉ News broadcasts, on 10 January 2007, that the body of the pilgrim Winnie Brady had been identified:
[ - Daily paper “Slobodna Dalmacija”, Šestero hodočasnika našlo smrt u brdim, 10 Jan 2007- Online paper “ciNews”, Body of Dublin woman found in Medjugorje, 10 Jan 2007- Daily paper “Irish Examiner”, Body of Medjugorje pilgrim identified, 11 Jan 2007- Weekly magazine “Start”, Smrt vreba u šikari, No 213, 6 Feb 2007 ]
On 24 May 2013, a few hours after an Italian man, Renato Zambelli, aged 73, went missing, his group of pilgrims managed to contact him via cell phone and he told them he had got lost in the bushes.His dead body was found six days later on 30th May amongst some thick bushes near Medjugorje.
[ - Newspaper “Dnevni List”, Talijanski hodočasnik nađen mrtav nedaleko od Međugorja, 30/5/2013- Newspaper “24 Sata”, Talijana koji je nestao prije tjedan dana pronašli su mrtvog, 30/5/2013 ]
On 29 August 2014 a Scottish pilgrim, Sarah McKanzie, 74, moved away from her group on the Apparition Hill and disappeared. The woman would be found, dehydrated but alive, on 31 August on the Gradina hill, not far from Podbrdo. During the search, rescuers accidentally discovered an unidentified human skeleton.
[ - Newspaper “Dnevni avaz”, Britanka nestala na putu prema Brdu ukazanja, 30/8/2014
- Newspaper “Vecernji list”, U Međugorju pronađena 74-godišnja Sarah Mckenzie: GSS-ovci još pronašli ljudski skelet, 31/8/2014 ]
Another Italian pilgrim, Father Luciano Ciciarelli, 79, from Civitella Casanova, in Abruzzo (the photo shows Father Ciciarelli meeting Pope Francis in May 2013), on 2 August 2015 left the guesthouse where he was staying (the property belonged to Jurica Ostojić), leaving all his personal belongings behind in the room. He was last seen near the hill. Then, all trace of him was lost, despite all the searches made for him.
[ - Online paper “Klix.ba”, Državljanin Italije nestao u Međugorju, 8/8/2015
- Newspaper “Dnevni List”, Nestali misionar htio u Međugorju otvoriti ustanovu za svoj red, 12/8/2015
- Newspaper “Il Centro”, Prete scomparso a Medjugorje, la guida: "Difficile sia ancora in vita", 12/9/2015 ]
Published on 20 August 2012. Last update: 6 April 2017
Copyright © Marco Corvaglia. All rights reserved