by Marco Corvaglia
Among the features common in New Religious Movements (NRM) there is also the “agonizing wait: the phenomenon is particularly evident in cults that await the apocalypse, but also the other cults wait for an event and undertake a task of preparation" [Michele Del Re, Le nuove sette religiose (“The New Religious Sects”), Gremese, Rome, 1997, p. 19].
In Medjugorje, the manifestation of the secrets was presented as imminent as early as in 1981.
According to the seers, the third secret is a "sign", a great miracle. Let us see the remarkable sequence of messages on the subject, through the "diary" of Vicka (book 1).
August 27, 1981:
We asked her [Our Lady] with respect to the sign, and she said:
- Very soon, I promise you.
[René Laurentin, Message et pédagogie de Marie a Medjugorje. Corpus chronologique des messages. Urgence du retour à Dieu, O.E.I.L., Paris, 1988, pp. 151]
August 29, 1981:
Ivanka: - Will you leave us a sign soon?
- Again, a little patience.
[Ibid., p. 152]
August 30, 1981:
Jakov asks her about the sign:
- Again, a little patience!
September 3, 1981:
Jakov: - When will the sign which was announced come?
- Again, a little patience!
[Ibid., p. 154]
Let us pass now to the Chronicle of Apparitions, on which, on 16 March 1982, the associate pastor of Medjugorje, Tomislav Vlašić, writes:
Vicka says that they (the seers) know the day in which Our Lady will leave a sign, but it's still secret.
[Kronika ukazanja (Chronicle of Apparitions), available in the archives of the parish of Medjugorje and of the Curia of Mostar, vol. I, 16/3/1982, p. 73. 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. 102]
The seers of Medjugorje, back in the 80s, often stressed the apocalyptic nature of the secrets that - they say - will occur.
On December 25th, 1982, Mirjana received this message:
Mirjana, I have chosen you, I have confided in you everything that is essential. I have also shown you many terrible things.
[R. Laurentin, Message et pédagogie de Marie a Medjugorje. Corpus chronologique des messages. Urgence du retour à Dieu, O.E.I.L., Paris, 1988, p.183. English edition: Messages and Teachings of Mary at Medjugorje. Chronological Corpus of the Messages. The Urgency to Return to God, Riehle Foundation, 1988]
On January 4th, 1983, Father Tomislav Vlašić noted down on the Chronicle the following:
I even asked [to Ivan Dragičević] when the sign will appear. He replied that we would know when necessary. Then, I asked whether the time was somehow close - a matter of moths, years. He replied that the time was close.
[Kronika ukazanja, cit., vol. I, 4/1/1983, pag. 350.
Original text: Pitao sam ga također kad će biti znak. Odgovorio je da će se saznati kad bude trebalo. Ja sam ga pitao orjentaciono da li je to blisko vrijeme – pitanje kojeg mjeseca, godine. On je odgovorio da je to blisko vrijeme]
On 10 January 1983, Mirjana, interviewed by Father Vlašić asserted:
I know the date of every secret.
[R. Faricy, L. Rooney, Mary, Queen of Peace, Alba House, New York, 1984, p. 58]
On 25 December 1984 Mirjana added:
The time is coming. Some days before I will inform a priest.
[R. Laurentin, Le apparizioni di Medjugorje continuano. Proroga di misericordia per un mondo in pericolo?, Queriniana, Brescia, 1986, p. 32. English edition: Apparitions at Medjugorje Prolonged: A Merciful Delay for a World in Danger, Riehle Foundation, 1987]
In this period, the visionary chose the priest to whom she will have to reveal the ten secrets, ten days before their fulfillment: Fr. Petar Ljubičić (born in 1946).
On 17 February 1985, the assistant pastor Slavko Barbarić noted down, on the Chronicle, what Mirjana had said that very day:
Mirjana has emphasized that the time is coming.
[Kronika ukazanja, cit., vol. III, 17/2/1985, p. 282-283. Original text: "Mirjana je naglasila da se vrijeme približava." Cf also T. Vlašić, S. Barbarić, Pregate con il cuore, Amici di Medjugorje, Milano, 1986, p. 65]
On October 25, 1985, Mirjana reported:
The Holy Virgin […] has shown me, like in a movie, the occurrence of the first secret: the desolate and dismal condition of world after this first warning.
[R. Laurentin, Le apparizioni di Medjugorje continuano, Queriniana, Brescia, 1986, p. 34]
On 30 November 1985, after an extraordinary apparition, centred on the first secret, Mirjana made another explicit statement:
It will be painful, she has confirmed. It will come soon.
[Laurentin, Le apparizioni di Medjugorje continuano, p. 36]
On June 25, 1986, the “official” historian of Medjugorje, father René Laurentin, interviewed Mirjana:
But are all this secrets sad or grievous?
No, she answered smiling, but most of them are.
[Ibid., p. 40]
At the very same time, however, a way out starts to be outlined. Mirjana adds:
If we really love God our Father and our Mother, then it is obvious that nothing really bad can happen to us.
On October 16, 1986 Mirjana said that the expected events are "very close in the chronological sense" ["Eco di Medjugorje" ("Echo of Medjugorje"), No 34, November 11, 1986, p. 8].
On 2 February 1990, Mirjana asserted:
If the Madonna did not help me, I could not bear the secrets: it is very hard for me! However, she tells me that I should not, that we should not be scared. We must accept God as our Father and Mary as our Mother.
[R. Laurentin, Dernières nouvelles de Medjugorje, No 9 , O.E.I.L., Paris, 1990, p. 125]
Ever since 1990, because of the non-fulfillment of “prophecy”, the then most famous defender of Medjugorje in the world, Father René Laurentin, admitted:
It amazes me that Mirjana talked about the secrets and predisposed the plan for the detection from 1984, because, knowing the dates, she knew that they would not happen so soon.
[R. Laurentin, Dernières Nouvelles de Medjugorje, No 9. Vers la révélation des 10 secrets?, O.E.I.L., Paris, 1990, p. 18]
A few years later Laurentin interviewed Mirjana again on this issue:
On March 14, 1993, I asked her:
- In 1984 it looked like you rushed to contact Father Petar: the priest chosen to reveal the secrets. If you already knew that the date of their occurrence was so far away, why did you act so much ahead of time?
- It was needed so that Father Petar could prepare.
[R. Laurentin, Dernières nouvelles de Medjugorje, No 12, O.E.I.L., Paris, 1993, p. 19]
Father Petar is still preparing.
Interviewed in 2010, Mirjana assured that, “Things are slowly getting started” [Kresimir Šego, I veggenti raccontano, Medjugorje 2011, p. 29].
The manipulative technique of always presenting as imminent the revelation of the pre-announced events is old but always works.
And so again, in her 2016 autobiography, Mirjana repeated:
Things are slowly starting to develop.
[Mirjana Dragićević Soldo, My Heart Will Triumph, Catholic Shop Publishing, Cocoa FL 2016, p. 369]
It’s possible you’re reading this book after the secrets have been revealed.
[Ibid., p. 328]
Not only the followers of Medjugorje, but also many groups await future events, often apocalyptic. Not infrequently specific dates are even given.
Well, you might think that this leads to the verification and, consequently, to the refutation. It is absolutely not the case. If so, no evidence of this technique is seen in many NRM groups.
The expectation of the event creates emotionality and anxiety, but the belief provides relief, comfort and protection: this is what matters. Then, only a few of adepts will change their mind.
Marc Galanter, Director of the team of study of the NRM instituted by the American Psychiatric Association, observes:
The group acts like a psychological pincer, promoting distress, while at the same time providing relief.
[M. Galanter, Cults, Oxford University Press, 1999, p. 86]
Steven Hassan, psychologist expert of NRM, in his book, translated in six languages, Mentalmente liberi [original title: "Combatting Cult Mind Control"], observes that a date is usually given set into “a period distant enough not to be disproved too early and close enough to serve as a strong incentive”.
And then, many groups respond to non-fulfillment of expected apocalypse “postponing the great event by some years” [S. Hassan, Mentalmente Liberi, Avverbi, Rome, 2002, p. 125].
The group "Baha'is Under the Provisions of the Covenant" predicted in 1973 that a nuclear explosion would devastate the world, and Jesus Christ would return to Earth in 2000; In Canada, a group called “La Mission de L’Esprit Saint”, lead by Emmanuel Robitaille, announced in 1973 that the end of the world would happen before the end of 1975.
The Jehovah's Witnesses previewed the end of the world and the Last Judgment for the year 1874, then they moved them to 1914, then to 1918, to 1925, to 1932, to 1935, to 1942, to 1975, and then to 2000.
The Garabandal apparitions are well-known apparitions of the Madonna (not approved by the Church) that are claimed to have occurred between the years 1961 and 1965 in a Spanish rural village. In the Diary of the "seer" Conchita we can read:
The Virgin told me the date of the miracle and what it consists of. I have to communicate it eight days earlier, so that people may come. The Pope will see it from wherever he is, and Padre Pio also.
[Diario de Conchita, Nuestra Señora del Carmen de Garabandal, New York, 1972, pp. 69-70]
These are words from a letter that Conchita wrote to a member of the Commission of Inquiry established by the Bishop of Santander:
I am also certain that the Miracle will come, because the Virgin told me so, and I know the date of the Miracle, too, and what will happen in the miracle that the Blessed Virgin is going to work for the world. I am as certain that the miracle is coming as I am that two and two make four.
[Francisco Sánchez Ventura y Pascual, The Apparitions of Garabandal, San Miguel Publishing, Detroit, 1970, p. 133]
Another written statement by Conchita:
There will not remain the slightest doubt that it comes from God [...] In the pine grove [the spot where some of the apparitions took place], a sign of the miracle will be left forever. It will be possible to film and televise it.
[Ibid., p. 179]
The Great Miracle of Garabandal was promised and announced in the summer of 1961. There has been nothing.
As to Medjugorje, some data (that, whilst not statistically rigorous, is plausible) deserves a mention.
An online opinion poll, launched in 2013 (and still active in 2016) by the Italian website madonnadimedjugorje.org, asked the question: "According to you, when are the secrets going to be fulfilled?". Of the 3,648 responses 58% answered “Between 2015 and 2020”. In total, only 11% of the respondents gave a date more than 10 years in the future.
Of course, as has always happened in the past, when the expected period expires it rolls forward to the next 5-10 year period.
Published on 8 August 2008. Modified on 22 July 2017