BY V1VIANE HEWITT IN ROME
THE SI-HINE OF Medjugorje in Yugoslavia cannot be interpreted as the "place of authentic Marian apparitions", according to the Vatican.
The official stance from Rome, reiterated this week, is a reminder to a million pilgrims a year to Medjugorje that the Bishops of the former Yugoslavia have declined to endorse the "supernatural" nature of events in the small hillside town.
In 1981, at least three local children claimed they saw a vision of the Virgin Mary on a hill overlooking the town of Medjugorje. They claimed to have seen subsequent periodical apparitions and one of the "visionaries" continues to insist today that she receives messages.
But on 10 April 1991 in the run-up to the tenth anniver sary of the alleged apparitons, the Slav Episcopate said in a document that it was "impossible to affirm that the Medjugorje events concern supernatural apparitions and revelations".
Medjugorje, however, has become a favourite destina tions for pilgrimages from all over the world and has been at the centre of a new supernatural devcopment in Italy.
In February 1995, the owners of a foot-high plaster figurine of the virgin, bought in Medjugorje, claimed that it was weeping blood. The liquid was subsequently analysed and found to be male human blood. But, as a Vatican. commission continues its studies into the phenomenon at Civitavecchia about 40 miles north of Rome and which is said to have brought at least 20 miracle cures, the Vatican seems supportive of the sceptical stance of the Slav Episcopate. " 0 ffi c al pilgrimages to Medjugorje, interpreted as a place of authentic Marian apparitions, must not be organised because they would contradict the statements of the Bishops of the former Yugoslavia," a spokesman said.
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