Medjugorje,(Croatian pronunciation: [medʑuɡoːrje]) is a town located in the Herzegovina region of Bosnia and Herzegovina, around 25 km (16 mi) southwest of Mostar and close to the border of Croatia. The town is part of the municipality of Čitluk. Since 1981, it has become a popular site of Catholic pilgrimage due to reports of alleged apparitions of the Virgin Mary to six local children.
The name Međugorje literally means “between mountains”. At an altitude of 200 m (660 ft) above sea level it has a mild Mediterranean climate. The town consists of an ethnically homogeneous Croat population of 2306. The Roman Catholic parish (local administrative and religious area) consists of five neighbouring villages: Medjugorje, Bijakovići, Vionica, Miletina and Šurmanci.
Development of the pilgrimage site:
On 24 June 1981, reports began of Marian apparitions on Crnica hill in the Bijakovići hamlet, and shortly thereafter confrontations with Yugoslav state authorities began. Pilgrims were forbidden from coming. Pilgrims’ donations were seized by the police and access to what was called the Apparition Hill was largely blocked.
In October 1981, Father Jozo Zovko, then the parish priest of the town, was sentenced to three and a half years imprisonment with forced labor for allegedly participating in a nationalistic plot. After Amnesty International, among others, appealed for his release and a judicial appeal was made, the sentence was reduced in the Yugoslav Federal Court in Belgrade to one and a half years, and the priest was released from prison in 1983.
In the last years before the breakup of Yugoslavia, travel of pilgrims was no longer hindered by the state.