The story of Medjugorje in the very south of Herzegovina is well known to most Catholics. In 1981 six teenagers were playing together in the hills between the villages of Medjugorje and Bijakovici. Fifteen-year-old Ivanka Ivankovic, on the way home to the village of Bijakovići, suddenly saw on the hill of Crnica a woman in a white robe, with a white scarf over the head and the child in her arms. It was on this barren hillside that Mother Mary appeared and addressed and spoke to them. When the children told their parents what happened – the first reaction was skepticism.

The Međugorje apparitions, however, did not cease. The Mother Mary appeared again and again with the main Međugorje messages as Conversion back to God, Prayer, Fasting, Daily Reading of Bible and Confession, and soon made believers out of even the most vocal of critics. Since then it is estimated that millions of people have visited the tiny place of Medjugorje. This sleepy Herzegovina village of Međugorje has become the second largest Catholic pilgrimage site in the world.

There has been much controversy over the legitimacy of the visions and apparition, so much so that the Pope has not recognized Medjugorje as an official pilgrimage site, and shows restraint and caution. Some say the main reason for the  ”apparition” of Our Lady at Crnica hill: at the foot of the hill lies village of Šurmanci, where  local Croat Catholics from Sumranci, Medjugorje and Bijakovici and the Nazi – Ustasha from Capljina–  in early August 1941, in just two days brutally, mostly with edged weapons and tools killed more than 800 Serbs from the village of Prebilovci, among which were more than women and children, thrown them into the 60-meters deep pit. This was one of the most outrageous slaughter in the whole history of the Second World War on the territory of the former Yugoslavia, whom preceded multi days torture and violence over the Serb Orthodox population. There were 4000 Serbs from the area of Capljina, Stolac, Ljubuski, Metkovic and Neum brutally killed during 1941.

‘Ivan Jovanovic Crni – the main criminal Ustasha executor fled after the war and joined the Tito’s partisans in Zumberk in May 1945.  Later he escaped to the vicinity of Subotica where he was hiding until 1956 when he was captured. He was killed in 1968. Only five other Ustashas – participants in this massacre were sentenced to death penalty while the main brain of this massacre, Ludvig Jovanović, brother of Crni was convicted to seven years in prison. Out of 300 criminals there were only seven who were sentenced to 7 or 8 years imprisonment. The Regional Court of Mostar confirmed in the verdict of  Ivan Jovanović Crni that there were 33 houses of Prebilovci completely destroyed and families wiped out and that total number of victims was 830 persons who were executed, killed or thrown into Surman pit.  The communist leaders of Yugoslavia banned the truth of the scope of this massacre by prohibition of taking out bones of the Serb victims from the karstic pits of Herzegovina where they were thrown. The holes of those pits were cemented in1961 along the order of the communist leaders. Until the Second World War there were 1000 inhabitants of Prebilovci and only 172 survived the war’. source Zdravko Rajević

Prebilovci village is the Serb Orthodox village on the territory of Medjugorje that experienced the unimaginable tragedy in the Second World War and makes the symbol of suffering of the Serbs in Herzegovina. On this horrifying tragedy testifies the Church of the Christ Resurrection in Prebilovci reconstructed in 1990 where remains of the Holy New-Martyrs of Prebilovci and the Lower Herzegovina from 13 pits and other places of execution were collected and buried. Unfortunately in 1992 this church was destroyed to the ground by the Croat forces. One who survived this terrible crime was academic Milorad Ekmecic who said in one of his last interviews in 2014: „Be damned everyone who want a war. I experienced the war from 1941 until 1945 when my head was twice barely saved. There were 77 members of the Ekmecic Family who got killed, among which was the youngest Andjelina killed in the fourth month of her life, and the oldest was grandfather Scepan who was 77 years old. Be damned also everyone who thinks wars come as outcome of irresponsible individuals, and not the instruments through which goes the process of historical development.”

Nonetheless, millions of faithful Catholics from all over the world visit Medjugorje and its sacred spots, and the many amazing accounts suggest that miracles are a regular occurrence here – the Virgin Mary is said to still appear every day to three of the teenagers and once a year to the other three. Medjugorje is located in the close vicinity of the hill and the village of Crnica, 35 km away from Mostar, 20 km from the Adriatic coast, and 5 km from Capljina. It has been visited by more than 40 million of visitors, although Medjugorje bears infamous role for invigoration of the Croatian extreme nationalism on which Vatican remains silent.