From the Medjugorje parish records we learn that the Cross on Krizevac dates from 1934 and was built to commemorate the nineteenth centenary of Our Lord’s death. The parishioners set about the arduous business of getting material up that pathless hillside with its fierce rocks and dense thorn-thickets. The material included cement, sand from the Neretva River, limestone, wood, iron, and water.
The parish records pay generous tribute to the quite extraordinary self-sacrificing and zeal of the parishioners. To make matters worse for them, the winter weather was particularly bad.
On March 16, 1934, the cross was solemnly blessed and Mass was celebrated at its pedestal. Thereupon the hill was rechristened Krizevac (krizevac = cross). The day before, a big procession set out from the church to the sound of bells, the praying of the Rosary and litanies, the singing of hymns, and a deafening cannonade fired from artillery pieces.
Then the parish priest, Fr. Bernardin Smoljan, made one particularly touching entry in the records. His parishioners, he said, had undertaken that daunting task, ‘in order to leave to their descendants a clear and visible proof of their deep faith in the Redeemer.’
According to a local tradition, Fr. Smoljan had actually received a personal commission from the Pope himself (Pius XI, who had proclaimed 1933 a Holy Year) ‘to raise a cross on the highest Golgotha in Hercegovina.’ The tradition maintains the Holy Father, having received instructions in a dream, duly summoned Fr. Smoljan to Rome.
Another local tradition links the hilltop cross with special divine protection against the violent hailstorms and thunderstorms that can ravage vineyards, tobacco plants and other crops, besides causing widespread damage and even taking a toll of human lives. Local people say that those mincing storms inevitably veer away from Medjugorje and vent their fury on surrounding hills.1
Our Lady of Medjugorje’s September 25, 1996 message:
“On one occasion when we were beset with problems the Mother of God showed us Jesus with the crown of thorns. He was wounded. His face streamed with blood – as on the cross. But we did not see the cross. Jesus was suffering pain all over. But He did not say anything; we only saw Him. Then the Mother of God said: ‘In the same way Jesus suffers you should bear your sufferings for love of Him.’” 2
Pope John Paul II:
“The letter to the Hebrews speaks of being made perfect through suffering (see Heb 5:8-10). This is because the purifying flames of trial and sorrow have the power to transform us from within by unleashing our love, teaching us compassion for others, and thus drawing us closer to Christ. Next to Her Son, Mary is the most perfect example of this. It is precisely in being the Mother of Sorrows that She’s a Mother to each one of us and to all of us. The spiritual sword that pierces Her heart opens up a river of compassion for all who suffer.” 3
“The world refused to see Jesus upon the cross. They told Him that if He would come down they would believe Him. But Jesus remained upon the cross because it was the will of God. If the Lord permits a cross, it is because there is no other way to reach the Father Who loves us. If one does not persevere one cannot go on; it was foreseen by Jesus in the Gospel. An Italian author explained the meaning of perseverance in a fairy tale: Two frogs had fallen into a jar of milk. One quickly lost faith and gave in to death. The other resisted and moved around doing the frog kick one, a hundred, a thousand times until the milk curdled and the frog leapt out. The latter was perseverant. Everyday is the hour of perseverance. It is not important if one falls down. The Father is prepared to forgive you not one but seventy times seven times.” 4
Pope John Paul II:
“When we have striven to alleviate or overcome suffering, when like Christ we have prayed that ‘the cup pass us by,’ and yet suffering remains, then we must walk ‘the royal road’ of the Cross. As I mentioned before, Christ’s answer to our question ‘Why?’ is above all a call, a vocation. Christ does not give us an abstract answer, but rather He says, ‘Follow Me!’ He offers us the opportunity through suffering to take part in His own work of saving the world. And when we do take up our cross, then gradually the salvific meaning of suffering is revealed to us. It is then that in our sufferings we find inner peace and even spiritual joy.” 5
A Friend of Medjugorje:
“Some innocently with good and pure intentions prefer to look only towards the Resurrection; but there cannot be a resurrection without a passion. We have hope for our Resurrection because of Jesus’ Resurrection; but only seeing His Resurrection without His Passion can cause much unhappiness. One might think: ‘Look at Jesus, all gloriously resurrected and here I am suffering, lonely, depressed.’ The reality is that this world is full of suffering and to think we should be happy all the time and never suffer is the thing which will rob us of joy and true happiness. Who can identify with resurrection when in deep hurt or trials? When in this state, if we go instead before the real suffering Jesus, eye to eye, seeing Him hanging on His cross, we can receive healing and have our burdens eased.” 6
1 Medjugorje Messenger, July-September 1989
2 Medjugorje, A Contemporary Mystery, 1991
3 The Wisdom of Pope John Paul II, 1995
4 Medjugorje, A Testimony, edited by Sergio Pagliaroli
5 The Wisdom of Pope John Paul II, 1995
6 A Friend of Medjugorje, Field Angel Newsletter, April, 1996