In his most in-depth comments on Medjugorje so far, Pope Francis appears to have cast doubt on the religious phenomenon of Medjugorje, a once sleepy village in Bosnia and Hercegovina, which was transformed in June 1981, when the Virgin Mary allegedly appeared to six children on a remote hillside - apparitions which continue today. What has happened since is nothing short of a miracle itself. That once sleepy town now attracts in excess of one million tourists a year, and it is said that Medjugorje now has more tourist beds than the rest of the country.
Although it is one of the most visited Catholic religious tourism destinations in the world, the Vatican has never given its official seal of approval to the apparitions, and a papal envoy was recently dispatched to investigate further. Speaking on the papal plane returning from Portugal, where he canonised two shepherds who had visions of the Virgin Mary 100 years ago, Pope Francis commented on Medjugorje:
“These supposed apparitions don’t have much value – I’m giving my personal opinion. But it is obvious, who thinks the Virgin would say: ‘come to this place tomorrow at this time and I’ll give a message to a seer’?”
It should be pointed out that the Pope was a little less forthright on the original 1981 apparitions:
“On the original apparitions, the ones the children had, the enquiry says, more or less, that investigations need to continue.”