Medjugorje - More mysterious happenings are happening in a small town in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as a wheelchair-bound Italian teenager finally walks.
The town Medjugorje was once more in the news on March 24, 2014, as leading Croatian daily Slobodna Dalmacija reported on the curious case of 19-year-old Italian pilgrim suddenly able to walk after years in a wheelchair after contact with a statue of the Virgin Mary.
According to the report, which was based on a television appearance by the young Andrea de Luce on popular Italian show Domenica In on RAI, de Luce's parents took him to Medjugorje as a last hope of healing a bone disease which had him confined to a wheelchair.
Medjugorje is a small town in Herzegovina region of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was transformed from a sleepy rural village in 1981 by the alleged apparition of the Virgin Mary to six local children on a hillside. The first apparition was repeated, and they still continue today, resulting in a wave of religious tourism and more than 1 million visitors a year from Catholic communities all over the world. The town has been transformed into a major tourist centre, with local businesses providing accommodation for up to 10 months a year for their religious tourism guests.
According to the report, de Luce's parents took him to Medjugorje in September 2009, in the hope that prayer might help. Staying in front of a statue of Our Lady one evening, he says he was hit by a ray of light from her face. Returning home to his native Castelmar di Stabia on the bus, his parents were preparing the wheelchair for him when he suddenly felt he could walk. And he did.
Since that day, de Luce explained on television that he has been able to engage in normal activities such as bike riding and playing football, something totally unthinkable prior to the Medjugorje visit.
"The only explanation for this is the healing miracle of Our Lady of Medjugorje," said Paolo Brosia, a former television reporter who appeared on the show, "because Andrea's mom and aunt are fervently praying for healing , and the culmination occurred just when he visited the shrine."
Miracle or not? It is the latest episode in the colourful recent history of Medjugorje, whose amazing international appeal has not yet reached The Vatican, as the Catholic Church has yet to officially recognise the happenings in Medjugorje.