by Marco Corvaglia
§ 1. "A relation, ambiguous in certain aspects, with money"
In 1991, the then "official" historian of Medjugorje and a great advocate of these apparitions, Father René Laurentin, speaking of the "spiritual risks" that the seers had to deal with, stated that Marija "had gone from the poorest family among all the visionaries to a condition of wealth that led her to a very different culture and to an easy and brilliant life" ["Eco di Medjugorje", No 84, July 1991, p. 6] and the twenty-six-year-old Ivan "has begun to like playboy clothing and has developed an exaggerated care for his own person" [ibid.].
In 2014, the (indulgent) pontifical commission of inquiry on Medjugorje admitted in its final report:
What the International Commission has been able to ascertain, in regard to the accusation of a possible seeking of profit, is that the witnesses of the supernatural sign originally addressed to them now effectively have a relation, ambiguous in certain aspects, with money (and with what in general can be called a preoccupation with their own “wellbeing”).
[Final Report of the Pontifical International Commission of Inquiry on Medjugorje, in Saverio Gaeta, Dossier Medjugorje, San Paolo Edizioni, 2020, p. 81 and David Murgia, Rapporto su Medjugorje, Il Segno di Giona, 2020, p. 57]
§ 2. The case of Marija Pavlović - Hotel or spirituality center? The amazing effects of not calling things by their name
Here is a report by Andrea Casadio (with whom I collaborated in the preliminary phase of his project) on the economic activities of the visionaries. It was aired in the program PiazzaPulita by the Italian televison LA7 on March 30, 2017 (for English subtitles, select the relevant function in the player bar):
Let's analyse the question, focusing on the case of Marija Pavlović.
The seer Marija Pavlović divides her time between the Italian town of Monza (where she officially resides with her husband, Paolo Lunetti) and Bijakovići, a village that is part of the Medjugorje parish.
In 2010, she founded, in Medjugorje, the Antares Association (reg. R-1003/10 of the Cantonal Ministry of Justice), with the aim of collecting, especially among the devotees from the North of Italy, funds for contributing to the construction of a so-called "spirituality center", named "Magnificat", on a land owned by her, in Bijakovići (for donations, also a bank account, titled “Antares Association”, was opened at Banca Prossima, agency of Milan, Paolo Ferrari Square, 10 [IBAN IT42Q0335901600100000015985]).
In reality, the "spirituality center" is a hotel with 54 rooms (double or triple accommodation and small apartments are available) and 120 beds, a conference room and a chapel.
The following footage (shot on 16 April 2011 at the Campagnola restaurant, at Riva del Garda) immortalizes what is presented as a “charity dinner" to raise money from Medjugorje devotees to build the Magnificat Center.
The person who introduces the event, before calling upon Marija Pavlović to speak, says:
[0:35] It's a great feeling to be here tonight for this charity dinner: a convivial evening to raise funds for the building of a prayer center at Medjugorje. A prayer center born thanks to the inspiration of Marija herself. It’s a center that will host prayer groups, families, even individuals, who want to spend a week, a few days, a month, in the spirit, along with Our Lady. [1:10]
[2:24] At your place setting you'll find an envelope. We're giving the proceeds from the dinner to the charity, and then we'll have a drawing, a very generous drawing with a surprise first prize. Then, with the envelope, anyone who wishes can make another offering, voluntarily, from the heart, there's no obligation. If you'd like to make another offering for the center, you are free to do so. [2:53]
All these facts led the Diocese of Alessandria, in the person of the Bishop Msgr. Giuseppe Versaldi (now Cardinal), to issue, on 16 June 2011, a Clarification on Medjugorje by Msgr. Versaldi:
As also in the Diocese of Alessandria some faithful and faith groups are involved in the events that have happened in Medjugorje since 1981, and go on pilgrimages there and meet here to practice their devotion to Mary and since recently in these meetings there is an alleged seer [...] I [also] ask the priests to not allow, during celebrations within our churches, offerings to be given to private persons (even if they are alleged seers), intended for private works, in order to avoid exploitation and suspicion.
[La Chiesa e Medjugorje. Precisazioni del Vescovo, "La voce alessandrina. Settimanale di informazione e opinione della Diocesi di Alessandria", No 23, 17 June 2011, p. 12]
The "Magnificat" was opened in May 2012 (address: Ulica Kraljice Mira, 106).
The Vatican correspondent of the Italian weekly magazine Panorama, Ignazio Ingrao, in his reportage from Medjugorje, writes:
Marija Pavlovic lives in Monza with her husband Paolo Lunetti and four sons, but in Medjugorje she opened the hotel Magnificat. Formally it is a "hospitality center", actually a four-star hotel with 54 elegantly furnished rooms, all with baths.
[I. Ingrao, E se chiude Medjugorje?, "Panorama", year 53 No. 25, 24 June 2015, p. 90]
The "Magnificat", the 120 bed-hotel, in the advertising brochure of an Italian travel agency (Rusconi Viaggi). In it one can read that "Marija Pavlovic [...] will be often present in the center to give her testimony." The brochure also contains the charge for organized groups (travel and three nights).
§ 3. About Mirjana
According to what was reported at the end of July 2019 by the daily Slobodna Dalmacija, and later by other prominent Croatian media (such as 24 Sata, Index and Dnevnik), in the early 2000s the visionary of Medjugorje Mirjana Dragićević, together with her husband Marko Soldo, bought a villa with a pool, in front of the sea. The villa is in the municipality of Sućuraj, on the island of Hvar, in Blace street (Ulica Blace). The island is located 40 kilometers from Medjugorje.
The villa (in the photos), bears the sign Vila Veronika to the right of the main entrance (Veronika is also the name of Mirjana’s younger daughter, born on 19 April 1994), but it is rented to tourists, with the name Sućuraj 04, as a 4-star residence through the well-known website Booking.com and via other agencies as well.
All this came to light - as reported by the daily newspapers - after serious building abuses were committed there. A portion of the marine cliff in correspondence of the lateral (pedestrian) entrance of the villa was cemented and then covered with stone tiles, and on this area were placed some umbrellas and deck chairs.
On the morning of July 30th, an article by Andrea Topić with several photos appeared in the online edition of Slobodna Dalmacija with the title While seeing Our Lady, the visionary of Medjugorje Mirjana cements the beach in front of her luxury villa in Hvar. We have witnessed a truly devastating miracle!
We can read there that "according to the land registers, the owners of the house and the land are Mirjana and Marko Soldo".
The article then gives this additional information as well:
We also asked Split-Dalmatia County what they think about it and if they trust our photos. At the Department of Maritime Affairs and Tourism, they condemn the naturalistic destruction. From their words it can be concluded that the person who set up the deckchairs should have asked for an approval concession:
"It is not allowed to build in the maritime domain or to usurp it. The 2019 maritime management plan for the area of the municipality of Sućuraj includes 15 beach chairs and 15 umbrellas in the microlocality Bay of Blace. From the photo provided, we can see that it is not the same location.
Therefore, we can confirm that no concession has been granted."
[Andrea Topić, Dok gleda u Gospu, međugorska vidjelica Mirjana betonira plažu pred svojom luksuznom vilom na Hvaru; Posvjedočili smo pravom devastatorskom čudu!, Slobodna Dalmacija, 30 July 2019]
In the afternoon, on that same day, in an article by Denis Gaščić of 24 Sata, the most prominent Croatian online newspaper, having managed to contact Mirjana by telephone, reported:
"What house? What beach? What cementation? It is the first time I’m hearing about it. It is not true and I do not intend to go down to their level or make any comments." The visionary of Medjugorje Mirjana Dragićević Soldo cut the call short.
She didn't want to talk about the details. Yet the facts say the opposite.
[Denis Gaščić, 'Kakva kuća? Koja plaža? Nije istina da sam išta betonirala', 24 Sata, 30 July 2019]
A few hours later, journalist Denis Mahmutović from 24 Sata confirmed:
Cadastral records clearly show that she and her husband Marko are the villa's owners.
[Denis Mahmutović, Kod vidjelice se zaista ima što za vidjeti: Plaža je čisti beton, 30 July 2019]
Slobodna Dalmacija, in another article entitled The seer of Medjugorje rents to tourists her Hvar stunning luxury house! And there are also hotels in Medjugorje in her name…, wrote:
Mirjana Dragićević-Soldo, a seer of Medjugorje, bought a house in Sućuraj, Hvar - the local people recall - fifteen years ago. She rarely comes to the island, only when there is a hole in her agenda [...]. The building complex is rented to tourists.
[A. Topić, Međugorska vidjelica svoju luksuznu kuću na Hvaru iznajmljuje turistima, i to za cifru od koje 'boli glava'! A uz njezino se ime vežu i hoteli u Međugorju..., Slobodna Dalmacija, 30 July 2019]
The following day Slobodna Dalmacija provided additional information: "Mirjana and Marko Soldo [...] bought the property from Andre Kumarić, former president of the Chamber of Commerce and Handicrafts of Split [...]".
A statement by the mayor of the municipality of Sućuraj, Ivan Slavić, is also reported, confirming that the structure is owned by the "seer":
"Mirjana and Marko Soldo bought the villa more than 10 years ago and improved it, so now it's two-floor building with over 200 square meters and a pool. The house, as far as we know, is regularly rented and the prescribed taxes are paid."
[A Topić, Hvarski općinari konačno stigli pred vilu međugorske vidjelice: nju ondje nisu zatekli, ali su posvjedočili jednom drugom čudu na betoniranom sunčalištu...; Hoće li odgovarati i investitor i izvođač radova?, Slobodna Dalmacija, 31 luglio 2019]
Vladimir Matijanić, a journalist of Index, went to Medjugorje to get clarification on the matter. He arrived at Mirjana’s guesthouse, located in Bijakovići. This is his report:
We come up to the kitchen, and say who we are looking for and why. There are three women: they consult among themselves, call Mirjana’s husband and announce his arrival: "He’s coming".
A few moments later, they talk with him: he is no longer coming. He has no comment to make on the house in Hvar. [...]
... the family has two pensions: the one we visited, right next to the Apparition Hill, is officially owned by Svjetlana Dragičević - Dragičević is Mirjana's maiden name - and the other is not far away, at Vionica [a village that - like Bijakovići - is part of the parish of Medjugorje], where Mirjana's husband is from. As far as the locals know, both hotels are owned by Mirjana.
"Everyone here knows that the visionaries are very rich and that their sons drive expensive cars. The locals talk about it, but no one will say it publicly because everyone benefits from it," a local man explains.
[Vladimir Matijanić, Bili smo u Sućurju pa u Međugorju: Pronašli smo hotel vidjelice, njoj nema traga, Index, 31 July 2019]
Incidentally, the Svjetlana in question is Mirjana’s sister-in-law, the wife of her brother, Miro (Miroslav).
The two 24 Sata journalists, Denis Gaščić and Denis Mahmutović added, about Mirjana's daughter, Veronika:
Our colleagues who studied social service sciences with her at the University of Mostar told us that she used to go to class in a beautiful Range Rover.
[D. Gaščić, D. Mahmutović, 'Vidjelica ima i pansion odmah tu uz kuću. Ali pustite ženu...', 24 Sata, 31 July 2019]
Probably, it’s the same Range Rover that can be seen parked in Mirjana's garage in a television report (by Alessandra Borgia) about the Medjugorje houses and guesthouses of the visionaries Ivan and Mirjana, taken from the program Dritto e rovescio, broadcasted on the Italian TV Rete 4 on 20 June 2019:
§ 4. About Ivan
In September 2009 the Italian website L'Abateo Impertinente issued a report, with a 97-page documental dossier, on real estate transactions made in the USA by the Medjugorje seer Ivan Dragičević.
I chose to insert the link to this report, of course, only after verifying its reliability and validity: whoever would make their own verification, can use the various services in the United States that give, on payment, complete data on the real estate transactions of every citizen.
Here is a useful link to the Whitepages service:
Ivan is married since 1994 with an American woman, Laureen Murphy, has four children (Kristina, Michaela, Daniel and Matthew) and lives from May to September in Medjugorje and the rest of the year in the United States. In brief, what follows can be proved by documents and verified: at first he contracted, on May 15, 2002, a mortgage loan for which he promised to pay $60,678 a year for 14 years, and then sold this residence for a new one in May 2004: 5,056 Sq. Ft. (land size: 13,844 Sq. Ft.) with a big swimming pool.
This building is located at 5 Emily Ln Peabody, Massachusetts.
In this case, the loan of $800,000 was to be repaid in 6 months (it was in fact paid off in a year).
Here 's the original report (in Italian), from the website L'Abateo Impertinente, and here is an automated translation.
Besides, here can be read the interesting developments and backlash of this report: in Italian, again from the website L'Abateo Impertinente, and in an automated translation (in essence, less than a month after the publication of the inquiry in question, the Dragičević family has freed itself of all direct and personal management of the "travel and stay" package called Prayer Experience, and has fully delegated its management to the travel agency 206 Tours).
According to an estimate from the American real estate agency Redfin, the villa in question is worth around $1,000,000.00 today.
The same real estate agency attests that public records show that the residence is subject to a property tax of over $8,000.00 a year (8,368 in 2018).
This article continues on the page The Seers and Money: A Documented Analysis of an "Ambiguous Relation" [Part 2]