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Reinhold went searching for Scorpius but it was the Queen of Heaven who came into view... 

Reinhold Gasser, originally from the Tyrol, but now living with his wife Maureen in Sheffield, visited Medjugorje for the first time in May 2006. He came in search and thanksgiving; he followed the stars – and discovered Mary and Jesus in a most remarkable way. This is his witness.

The last year was a very hard time for Maureen and myself. Our daughter was ill and our son separated from his wife and little daughter. I said to Maureen, we will go on a pilgrimage to thank Our Lady for Sonia’s recovery and to ask for help for Mark. Maureen’s immediate response was, “We will go to Medjugorje!”

I had never had any inclination to go there and it would not have been my choice. Seeing how keen she was I never objected. Maureen had been there on two previous occasions and quite honestly she never stopped talking about it. Each time she returned, much to my annoyance, she never stopped talking about it.

In Medjugorje we had quite a varied programme arranged – a talk from Ivan, one of the visionaries – to which when asked by Maureen, “What did you think of that?” I replied, “That was well rehearsed.” When some pilgrims watched the sun behave in a peculiar manner, of course I gave them a good explanation – I give talks on the sun and planets at my Astronomy Society. The Risen Christ statue, made of bronze, has a liquid coming from one of the legs and pilgrims can be seen catching this liquid on handkerchiefs – of course I gave a good scientific explanation for that as well. However, I must say that the Masses we attended were very special and I prayed for our children.

Now because I am an amateur astronomer I was able to make good use of the very dark skies. I had been at the top of Mount Krizevac, at midnight, just shortly after we arrived and spent a good four hours there observing. On Sunday 21st May I walked about 10 miles radius and viewed the sky on another hill near Medjugorje returning about one in the morning.

On Monday the 22nd May I was looking forward to another good observation night. Maureen, however, said that Ivan was going to have an apparition at 10pm on ‘apparition hill’, the first place that our Lady appeared in June 1981, and all the pilgrims were invited to be present. I said I wasn’t interested because I wanted to go off somewhere quiet but Maureen said since it was our 35th wedding anniversary would I please come along.

Torches were necessary to help us climb the rocky way to the large Cross and Our Lady’s statue near the top of the hill. Hundreds, if not thousands, of pilgrims were already there singing hymns and saying the rosary in various languages in the still darkness. At 10pm Ivan told people to kneel and a wonderful peace and stillness, hard to describe, could be felt in that special place.

After the apparition wide beams of light crossed in all directions lighting up the pilgrims in their standing, kneeling or sitting positions. This time I couldn’t give an explanation and just had to accept this was something extraordinary.

The sky was magnificent. All constellations looked at their best as I have never seen them before. Needless to say I had my 8 x 56 binoculars and sky atlas and I knew I would have to wait until the pilgrims descended before I could start my star-gazing session. I was quite pleased that I could combine star gazing with pilgrimage and felt secure especially near the large cross and the white statue of Our lady. I worked my way across the long constellation of hydra, passing the constellations of crater, corvus and libra, looking for messier objects. By then almost all the pilgrims had drifted away and some ladies sang their almost silent Ave Maria and they too left silently on their way down.

By this time I was looking at the constellation of scorpius low down in the southern horizon. At this point a young lady began to sing in front of the white statue of Our Lady, a very moving gospel spiritual, whilst her friend stood next to her. As I looked towards the large cross I saw a figure, from what I thought at first were two people, merging into one figure, becoming clearer and clearer into a very extremely beautiful young lady, extremely elegant, perfect in stature and posture. She wore a white veil over her head and a royal blue, golden shining garment, colours unseen, of shining quality, I am unable to describe. I also could not, in words, describe her stunning beauty and I felt cold shivers go down my spine.

My thoughts drifted back to my past life with all my shortcomings and I said twice in a loud voice, “Why me? Why me?” – knowing that this was Our Lady. As I stood there looking in awe she appeared to be listening to the singing girl pouring her heart out in her spiritual song. I composed myself and thought, have I lost my senses, and I reached down for my binoculars to see more of her in detail, as she was approximately 10 yards away from me; but all in vain, the magnification did not work and she was still the same. I lowered my binoculars and looked at her once more. By this time the singing lady had finished her song and Our Lady then faded away into total darkness. I just stood there feeling stunned and in a state of shock.

The two ladies started to make their way back down. Quickly, I got all my things together and made my way over to the white statue of our Lady and shouted loudly, “Excuse me, excuse me!” I did not want to frighten the two young ladies, but they replied with a polite hello. In a rather hasty way I asked them, “Did you see her? Did you see her?” They replied, “See what?” I said, “She was over there! She was over there! She was listening to you while you were singing!” And I pointed with my torch to the spot where she had appeared. “She was listening to you. She must have appeared for you.” Both girls said, “No she appeared to you, it was for you, we never saw her.” They then gave me a hug and could see from my initial reaction that I was in a state of shock.

The girl who had been singing said she had the most important decision of her life to make and all day she had butterflies in her body, especially while she was singing at our Lady’s statue. She said everything had now become clear to her. She sang another two spirituals for Our Lady and we made our separate ways down the hill.

I walked back through Medjugorje looking back to the constellation of scorpius which was now in full view. Our Lady’s image was still with me and will remain with me for the rest of my life. It was 2.00am when I reached the house where we were staying. I woke up Maureen and she said, “That hobby of yours has become an obsession!” But I said to her, “Something very strange has happened.” She saw immediately that I was very shaken and I told her what had happened on the hill that night.

I was happy as well as perturbed. We decided to say nothing to anyone until I had spoken to a priest. I arranged to see a very saintly priest after 10.00am Mass. He heard my confession and I told him the whole story and asked him what I should do. His advice was that I should share my experience with others.

Now I must point our that Our Lady said nothing to me, and you can draw your own conclusions from this, like I have to, but for me she will always be Our Lady of Medjugorje, Queen of Peace and Queen of the Stars.

• Reinhold and Maureen were members of a group of pilgrims that arrived in Medjugorje in the early hours of Thursday, May 18, 2006. I spoke to Reinhold a couple of times during the week who, quite rightly, maintained a healthy sceptism and a firm belief that some of the ‘signs and wonders’ at Medjugorje could be explained scientifically. He was a patient listener and presented a calm composure when stating his views and explanations.  But it was a changed Reinhold I met with the morning after his encounter with Our Lady. He literally was in a state of shock and awe, and moved to tears as he explained what had happened to him the previous night. He remained in this state for the final two days of the pilgrimage. After dinner on our final evening of our pilgrimage, Reinhold kindly gave his testimony to the rest of the group (around 50) before setting off to meet with the two ladies that had been singing beside Our Lady’s statue on the night of the apparition. Reinhold presented me his written testimony five days after returning home. – MW

It is interesting to note that Our Lady appeared to Reinhold (from the Tyrol) beside the Crucifix presented by pilgrims from the Tyrol some years ago. She appeared on the right side of Jesus (our left, looking at the picture of the Tyrollean Cross below that shows Reinhold sitting on the rock). He was not aware of this coincidence at the time.

I just stood there feeling stunned and in a state of shock...

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