Why is the Blue Cross blue?
There are in fact two blue crosses at Medjugorje – an upper and lower – located at the base of the mount known as Podbrdo or Apparition Hill . The upper blue cross is the original location; the lower blue cross was erected not too many years ago to accommodate Ivan’s prayer group. It is at the lower blue cross where Our Lady appears to Mirjana.
Pilgrims vouch for the power of prayer and peaceful atmosphere to be found at the Blue Cross. Countless apparitions and healings have taken place there over the long history of the Medjugorje phenomenon. My own conversion happened there during my first visit to Medjugorje.
There are varied accounts as to the origins of the Blue Cross and why it has become such a powerful place of prayer, but this explanation by an unnamed member of Ivan’s prayer group is probably the most reliable
• “Many pilgrims may not have the correct information concerning the Blue Cross. Many think that the Blue Cross was the site of the first apparition of Our Lady in Medjugorje. Many also think that the visionaries had apparitions at Blue Cross after they had been prohibited from having apparitions on the first place of the Apparition Hill. The correct information is as follows: The first apparition at the site of the Blue Cross occurred on 27 July 1982.
“A prayer group was regularly meeting at the first place of the apparitions, but soon the police discovered this. On the evening of July 27, we were walking to the site of the first place of apparitions when suddenly Ivan the visionary knelt down. This place where Ivan knelt became the site of today's Blue Cross. That same evening, Our Lady told Ivan not to proceed to the first place of the apparitions, as the ‘blue angels’ (the communist police) were waiting for them. Our Lady, on several occasions, stopped the prayer group at the Blue Cross, as they were on their way to the first way of apparitions. We travelled the back way to the first place of apparitions because we thought that only we knew that way – not even the police knew of that back way.
“In 1982, a member of the prayer group was building his house 200 metres below the Blue Cross. Today, this house is the closest to the Cenacolo Community. He wanted to mark the meeting place of the prayer group with a simple cross. From the framework of the house he was building, he and Ivan built a 3ft high cross. In order to protect this cross from the elements, Ivan found some paint that he had at home. He only had blue paint, that is why the Cross is blue!
“After a while, pilgrims started to gather there. They lit candles, and one day, the cross caught fire. One Italian pilgrim asked Marija the visionary if he could take home this wooden cross and replace it with an identical metal cross. This request was approved. He took a sample of the paint from the wooden cross, and in a laboratory, the contents of the blue paint was discovered and duplicated to paint the new metallic Blue Cross that is there to this day. This Italian pilgrim landscaped the Blue Cross area with the rock formations that you see today. He kept the original Blue Cross at his house in Italy, so that people could pray there. One day, I met this Italian pilgrim, and I jokingly asked him what happened to my Blue Cross. He was taken by surprise, thinking that we wanted it back. Of course, I had no intention of taking it back. Let the people pray!
“There have been many, many apparitions at the Blue Cross. It is the most suitable outdoor place in Medjugorje for pilgrims who are sick, old or not physically able to climb Cross Mountain or Apparition Hill, because of its close proximity to the road and it is easily climbed. It is an ideal meeting place for the prayer group when there are not so many pilgrims, especially in winter. Even today, apparitions occur at Blue Cross when Ivan returns from America. For years now, however, the prayer group have met in a location in the vicinity of Blue Cross, as pilgrims overflow the area hours before any apparitions begin. (where the second blue cross is erected).
“The Blue Cross was a secret meeting place for the prayer group for only a short time. People soon discovered its meeting location because at night, our joyful singing could be heard from far and wide. The communist police tried many times to capture the group of ‘fanatics that walk on the mountains’, but they never succeeded, because Our Lady always protected us. She was always suddenly stopping us to warn us of the police. This also happened twice when we went to Cross Mountain. Today the prayer group meets at a secret place, where we do not sing. Even if somebody hears us, they do not disturb us.”