Washington, Mar 19 (ANI): It has emerged that the Vatican has begun an investigation into miracles and appearances of the Virgin Mary at the famous Medjugorje shrine in Bosnia.
The Vatican said in a statement released March 17: "An international commission of inquiry headed by Italian Cardinal Camillo Ruini, a top adviser to the late Pope John Paul II, has been formed to study the case and report back to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith."
The "Miracles of Medjugorje" date back to 1981, when six teenagers claimed they saw a vision of the Virgin Mary on a hill near their village (then part of Yugoslavia).
As sunset approached, they claimed, they saw a veiled woman appear in the sky, surrounded by a blinding white light.
The woman carried an infant in her arms and did not speak but instead gestured for them to come closer. The teens ran back to their village, but no one else saw the incident.
The curious vision reappeared to the same group the following day, though this time she spoke, telling them: "I am the Blessed Virgin Mary."
After that, the same floating woman, child, and bright light appeared nearly every day for the next decade-each time only visible to the original group.
The location changed often, and sometimes the Virgin Mary would tell the teens messages, which they would then relay to local church authorities and later to the huge crowds of devout followers gathered nearby.
Joe Nickell, in his book 'Looking For a Miracle', notes that the local Bishop, Pavao Zanic, at first embraced the Marian visions but soon grew to doubt the teens' story after he began investigating.
"Zanic found grounds for doubting the authenticity of the apparitions, including numerous contradictions in the children's stories," Discovery News quoted Nickell as stating.
In fact, at the conclusion of his investigation, Bishop Zanic stated quite unequivocally, that the citing were false.
"The phenomenon at Medjugorje will be the greatest shame of the Church in the twentieth century. One can say that these are hallucinations, illusions, hypnosis or lies," he said.
The Vatican has its own team of miracle investigators who are more sceptical than one might expect.
They have debunked faked weeping statues, and tend to take a dim view of hoaxed visions of the Virgin Mary. They're cautious about authenticating events as genuine miracles. (ANI)