Friday, March 27, 2015

Medjugorje's Risen Christ Statue

Medjugorje's Risen Christ statue
Medjugorje's Risen Christ statue

With the approach of Easter next week, I thought it fitting today to post about Medjugorje's Risen Christ statue. If you are new to Medjugorje or have never heard of this statue, it is a thirty foot solid bronze statue located in the area adjacent to the back altar of Saint James Church. It draws many people to it and the line ups are long, sometimes taking over two hours for pilgrims to finally get to the statue. If you are planning to go to Medjugorje, on route or already there as of this post, I recommend you include a visit to the Risen Christ statue as part of your pilgrimage itinerary. You can find it by walking down the interlocking stone path flanked by Medjugorje's Luminous Mysteries Mosaics.

In addition to the beautiful sculpture there is something else about this statue that draws pilgrims to it each day: the unexplained and miraculous seeping of water near Christ's right knee. Droplets of water ooze out through a pinhole from the statue every few seconds, everyday, all day long, and throughout the night. Pilgrims patiently line up during all hours of the day and night, in the sunshine or the rain and during the colder months as well, all done in an effort to get their turn to see and experience this phenomenon.

You might be asking yourself, what exactly does this phenomenon represent. From a faith perspective, one can only conclude that it is a daily miracle. It is clearly impossible for water to constantly ooze out from a solid bronze statue. Science could easily substantiate this, but more importantly, the focus should be placed on why God has given this miracle to Medjugorje. 

Some see this as a much needed sign from Heaven, drawing further attention to the apparitions of Medjugorje. For others who are somewhat skeptical, this is tangible proof of something special happening in Medjugorje. Perhaps this is God's way of converting the "doubting Thomas" pilgrim who needs to see and touch for himself/herself something miraculous; that with such an experience will come the realization that there is something profound and unexplainable going on in Medjugorje. In my view the Risen Christ statue's daily miracle is God's way of making His presence known and in part, validating the apparitions in the process.

Pilgrims awaiting their moment at the Risen Christ statue
Two of my fellow pilgrims at the Risen Christ statue, Medjugorje June'2014. 

Yet for others, the phenomenon at the Risen Christ statue could also be a consolation from God to pilgrims who have already been given the gift of faith and fully believe in the apparitions of Medjugorje. The experience of seeing and touching the water becomes a faith strengthening moment; an affirmation of their belief in the apparitions.

What comes to mind in writing about this is a well known quote from the Spanish saint, Saint Teresa of Avila who stated, "Seek not the consolations of God, but the God of consolations." What does this mean for pilgrims at the Risen Christ statue? Simply put: absorb the moment; let the experience be a faith strengthening time; try not to become too overwhelmed by it; and most importantly pray to God and Our Lady to help you understand the significance and purpose for your pilgrimage and faith journey.

You might have noticed from the above photo that some pilgrims bring a bag with them to the statue. They do this because they want their respective items to come into contact with the seeping water. As to what pilgrims actually bring, linen hand cloths are the most common items. In addition pilgrims bring Rosaries, prayer cards, photos of loved ones, necklaces and just about anything else that is to be worn or carried around on a daily basis. Many pilgrims bring items with the intention of giving them to loved ones and friends. It is not uncommon for pilgrims to bring several of the aforementioned items, remaining at the statue for at least fifteen minutes. Time at the Risen Christ statue is one of patience and understanding.

A close up of linen hand cloths available in Medjugorje
Linen hand cloths available in Medjugorje for the Risen Christ statue

To accommodate pilgrims at the Risen Christ statue, several Medjugorje shops sell linen hand cloths, as shown in the above photo illustrates. The dimension of the cloths are approximately five square inches, and can be easily folded to a quarter of that size to fit into a prayer book, wallet, or purse. You may want to consider purchasing several of your own, wipe the water from the statue and give them away as a present to family and friends. 

Visiting the Risen Christ statue once is not a guarantee that you will not desire to visit it again before your departure. This is something that I experienced and it was shared by many of my fellow pilgrims. One pilgrim's story in particular comes to mind. The pilgrim is the gentleman in the previous photo, Alan, wearing the crimson shirt and beige shorts. I only had the privilege of journeying with him for three days, but we made the most of it, especially on the last night. The third day was totally his. As a courtesy, I expressed that he did not have to feel obligated to negotiate the day with me, but perhaps he should spend it alone and then come nightfall, we could reconnect and spend the night in prayer. It was an offer well received and accepted.

Night descended and one of the last items for Alan's pilgrimage itinerary was to revisit the Risen Christ statue. Alan had purchased several hand cloths and other religious items he wanted to put into contact with the water. So we visited the Risen Christ statue and it became abundantly clear from the exceptionally long line up that waiting to get his turn would consume much of his last remaining precious hours in Medjugorje. We decided it was best to get something to eat and then recite the Rosary at the Original Blue Cross. Our plan was to return to the Risen Christ at 2:00am and that is exactly what we did. Much to our surprise, there was still quite a long line up, but no where near what it was previously. 

In the early hours of the morning, the Risen Christ statue is quite a tranquil and peaceful place: the intense heat of the day has dissipated, there is no chatter from pilgrims, and the back altar of St. James is silent. Just the quietness of the early morning hours and the refreshing cooler air. Alan was in line and it looked from the line's movement that it would be approximately forty minutes before Alan had his chance again. In consideration of other pilgrims, I decided it was best to sit on one of the perimeter benches that surround the statue and patiently wait it out.

Eventually, Alan got his turn and the opportunity to spend as much time as he wanted to at the statue. Although neither of us expressed this in any way, it was abundantly clear to both of us that going to the Risen Christ statue was a beautiful gift for Alan's last night in Medjugorje. He was at total peace and he remained that way for the rest of the night. We returned to the Original Blue Crosses for further prayer and eventually headed back to our pension. Before Alan's taxi arrived, I said my "goodbyes" and wished him a safe return home.

If you do plan to go Medjugorje, the Risen Christ statue is certainly one of the many locations you will want to visit; it will be time well spent.

Our Lady Queen of Peace, pray for us.

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