In June 1981, 16 year old Mirjana Soldo was living with her family in Sarajevo in the former communist nation of Yugoslavia. After school let out, she took a train alone to the tiny village of Medjugorje to work with her uncle and cousins on their tobacco farm for the summer.
On June 24th, feast day of St John the Baptist, Mirjana strolled with her friend Invanka in the late afternoon after she finished her daily work in her Uncle’s tobacco fields. They saw a mysterious apparition of a woman with a baby in her arms on nearby Podbrdo Hill.
Soon they learned the woman’s identity – she was the Virgin Mary, the Blessed Mother of Jesus. Mirjana and five other children would experience apparitions of “Our Lady, Queen of Peace” each day, first on the Podbrdo Hill, and later at the nearby parish of St James rectory.
Mirjana shares of her initial encounters with the Blessed Virgin Mary:
“My heart whirled with fear and wonder…my heart was in such turmoil that I could hardly identify one emotion before another took over.” 
Fear and wonder were natural reactions to such a supernatural encounter. The children and their families were also well aware that they were entering dangerous and complicated waters in communist controlled Yugoslavia.
In her autobiography My Heart Will Triumph Mirjana shares about her family life in the city of Sarajevo. The account reveals she grew up in a stable and loving family and matured into a happy and well-adjusted young woman. Mirjana was not prone to unusual religious fervor, or exaggerated emotional displays.
Yet after the events of June 24th 1981, the young woman’s life was turned upside down.
Life Under Communism
The citizens of Yugoslavia, as they went about their day to day lives, were well aware of the power of the communist government to harass, hurt and even murder those they felt threatened the regime.
In communist Yugoslavia, religious books were practically contraband, so our knowledge of miracles was limited to the measured homilies of our priests who were always aware that government spies lurked in the pews. Anything misconstrued as an attack on the regime, the priests knew, could send them to prison—or worse. 
On June 29th 1981 as word spread of the heavenly visitations, the children were summoned to the Citluk police station for interrogation. An officer inquiring about the youngest visionary Jakov, who was not with the other children, asked Mirjana:
“Where’s that little shit?”
“Jakov is only 10 years old,” I said. “Leave him alone…”
“You lying bitch,” growled the policeman.
The interrogation went on like that for hours. Failing to get the children to recount their experiences, the officers stuffed them in the back of an ambulance for a rough and painful ride to Mostar hospital.
When they arrived the officer sneered, “Get used to this place…it might be your new home when the doctors declare you insane.” The police locked them in a dark, windowless room. Mirjana shared that the air was cold, damp and foul:
“I thought someone was sleeping on the table, but as my vision adjusted I realized the person was dead. Scanning the room, I saw more bodies.”
They were in the hospital morgue.
Next they were examined and questioned by a cold and threatening physician:
“You know,” he said, “we have a special place for the insane.”
This physician then locked the children in a ward with severely mentally ill patients. The children huddled together, fearing they would never be released.
It is important to keep in mind the methods of Eastern European communists to control their populations. All manner of diabolical physical and psychological torture, personality destruction and abuse were used to control and punish those that were seen as threatening the power of the state to form the new communist man and society.
Turning Up the Heat
Thankfully the children were later released. However as news spread across Medjugorje and beyond about the apparitions, the government went on the offensive. The visionaries’ relatives were threatened with imprisonment and the children with confinement in mental institutions if they continued to “perpetuate this religious hoax.”
The government declared a state of emergency in Medjugorje and the military entered the village with soldiers and attack dogs. Federal police took over the investigation of the apparitions and the interrogations of the visionaries became lengthier and more intense.
The following exchange with a federal officer is telling. It reveals the spiritual peace as well as the character and tenacity of young Mirjana.
The communist official pulled his handgun off its holster and laid it on the table between him and Mirjana:
“Confess,” he said… “Come clean,” he said glancing at the gun. “You didn’t see anything.”… “Now give me the truth.”
Mirjana looked at him straight in the eyes:
“The truth is that I see Our Lady, and I’m willing to die for her.” 
If the visionaries were adults, they would have found themselves locked away in some dark prison cell and likely tortured and killed. The fact they were children was a saving grace. The government, as corrupt as they were, did not want to be seen as imprisoning children. This did not prevent government agents from terrorizing the children and their families.
You can read more in My Heart Will Triumph about the ongoing harassment and oppression of Mirjana and her family, priests of the village and others by the communist authorities in the early days of the apparitions. Mirjana and her family as well as some of the clergy of that village paid a high price for being faithful to the mission entrusted to them by the Blessed Mother.
The Fruit of Forgiveness
One of the many beautiful fruits of the spiritual events in Medugorje is the cultivation of reconciliation and forgiveness.
Mirjana shares many years later:
“A few years ago a man came to my door. He looked vaguely familiar, but I did not recognize him at first. He seemed reluctant to speak and he avoided eye contact.”
“Can I help you” I said.
“Please forgive me.”
“I’m one of the policemen who interrogated you back in 1981. I’m really sorry for what we put you through.” 
The policeman shared with Mirjana a tape of one of their interrogation sessions and he played a portion of the recordings as they both sat and listened.
Mirjana shared how this encounter led her to recall the events and feelings of those early days of the apparitions. She was struck by the voice of that previously timid teenage girl on the tape who spoke with such confidence and with no fear to her interrogator; truly a gift of faith.
What about the Ten Secrets?
Mirjana does touch on the ten secrets entrusted to the visionaries by our Blessed Mother. These are all future events that will unfold in Medugorje and the world. Mirjana is careful to present the secrets without sensationalism.
While some secrets involve difficult and painful events in the future, (some which can be mitigated by prayer,) ultimately they are properly seen in the context of the overall mission of our Blessed mother.
The secrets are a message of hope in the coming victory of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary over Satan and his agenda. Mirjana mentions in her autobiography that the events in Medugorje are a fulfillment of the apparitions of Fatima Portugal in 1916.
Mirjana is now married and lives in Medjugorje with her husband Marko Soldo and their two daughters. Despite her very intimate experience of the Blessed Mother, and knowledge of the ten secrets entrusted to the visionaries, she leads a normal marriage and family life.
The book reveals that despite her very unusual vocation, she has the same responsibilities, joys and sorrows that we all encounter each day. Mirjana reveals the miracles, but also the traumatic suffering and loss of family and friends during the periods of war and violence that spread across the nation in the 1990’s.
Mirjana’s vivid descriptions of the visual and emotional experience of being in the presence of Mary are both fascinating and moving, and alone worth a read of “My Heart Will Triumph.”
Our Lady’s Words about Children Lost to Abortion
Along with my wife Theresa, I am co-founder of Rachel’s Vineyard Ministries for men and women who long for emotional and spiritual healing after abortion.
Women and men can despair when they come to face their role in the destruction of their unborn children, struggle to accept God’s forgiveness, and find peace and closure.
One of the more moving parts of the Rachel’s Vineyard weekend program, involve the meditations and exercises that lead participants safely through their memories and painful feelings, so their hearts are open to encounter the spiritual reality that their children are alive in the Lord. This is so important to recovery from this loss.
As St John Paul II declared in Evangelium Vitae, “To the same Father and to his mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child.”
This was reinforced for me when I read this passage from Mirjana’s book where she asks the blessed mother what happened to the souls of abortion children after their death. The blessed Mother’s responded:
“They are with me in Heaven.” (Pg. 108)
If you are reading this, and have participated in any way in the death of an unborn child, or have been hurt from that experience, please consider an abortion healing program.
Programs like Rachel’s Vineyard welcome women, men, grandparents, family members, siblings and friends directly impacted by abortion. You can find confidential email and phone contacts of healing resources in your area here.
Carriers of Peace
I close with a message of our Lady Queen of Peace from November 25th, 2015:
Dear children… be carriers
of peace and hope in this restless world where Satan is attacking and tempting
in every way. Little children, be firm in prayer and courageous in faith. I am
with you and intercede before my Son Jesus for all of you…”
 My Heart Will Triumph. Mirjana Soldo. Page 15
 Ibid page 16
 Ibid page 59-60
 Ibid pages 80-81
 Ibid pages 87-88 74007200790000