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 the 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.
Yet after the events of June 24th 1981, Mirjana’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 considered a threat to the regime.
On June 29th 1981 as word spread of the heavenly visitations, the children were summoned to the Citluk police station for interrogation.
The interrogation and verbal abuse went on 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.
Turning Up the Heat
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.” 
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.
There is also a powerful message of reconciliation and peace in My Heart Will Triumph among believers of other faiths. Sarajevo at that time had a large Bosnian Muslim and Serbian Orthodox Christian populations, with Catholic Croats and small number of those of the Jewish faith in the minority.
“An older Muslim woman named Paasha lived alone in the apartment below ours. She did not have any family nearby…if something broke, my father fixed it, and when we invited Paasha over for dinner, my mom prepared the meal according to Isalamic law. The food most beloved by God, Paasha would say, is food shared among many people.”
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. The third secret involves a visible and permanent supernatural sign that is described as beautiful and indestructible. The sign will be left on Apparition Hill, the site of the first appearance of our Lady Queen of Peace to the children of Medjugorje.
Mirjana shares of her last daily apparition of Mary and the significance of her annual birthday apparition on March 18th:
“Our Lady also gave me a precious gift. She told me that she would appear to me once a year, on March 18, for the rest of my life. March 18 is my birthday, but Our Lady did not choose that date for that reason…Only when the things contained in the secrets start to happen will the world understand why she chose the 18th of March. The significance of the date will be clear.” 
While some of the secrets involve suffering others reveal a message of hope. Mirjana shares:
“Our Lady is planning to change the world. She did not come to announce our destruction; she came to save us, and with her Son, she will triumph over evil. If our Mother has promised to defeat evil, then what do we have to fear?” (Pg. 143)
Mirjana mentions in her autobiography that she considers the events in Medugorje as 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 this timely autobiography.
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, and struggle to accept God’s forgiveness, and find reconciliation and peace.
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 aborted 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 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.
Do Not Lose Hope
I close with a message of our Lady Queen of Peace from April 25, 2018:
“Dear children! Today I am calling you to live your new life with Jesus. May the Risen One give you strength to always be strong in the trials of life and to be faithful and persevering in prayer; because Jesus saved you by His wounds and by His Resurrection gave you new life…Pray, little children, and do not lose hope. May joy and peace be in your hearts and witness the joy that you are mine. I am with you and love you all with my motherly love…”
[For the latest on the position of the Catholic Church on the
apparitions in Medjugorje, visit this page.]
 My Heart Will Triumph. Mirjana Soldo. Page 15
 Ibid page 59-60
 Ibid pages 80-81
 Ibid pages 87-88
 Ibid 136-137