Countries, Europe, Pilgrimage

2022 the year of the Big Medjugorje Reveal

We’re regularly bombarded with building suspense for all manner of political, showbiz or sporting announcements but what about 2022 the year of the Big Medjugorje Reveal?

All eyes are on Father Petar Ljubicic who has been bestowed the honour by one of the six visionaries Mirjana to announce the News (it might not be all good though) to the world.

Marian (followers of Mary) pilgrims got all excitable last year…

When Fr Petar, who runs a church in Vitina, not far from the Bosnia & Herzegovina town, gave an interview to Radio Maria.

Petar’s preachings

Do you want to know a secret: Fr Petar

An old confidante of Mirjana, he told the station: ‘When this will happen we have not yet known.

‘But we have the present that with each passing day, we are getting closer and closer to that moment.’

Franciscan friar Fr Peter won’t though just blurt it out (where’s the drama in that?).

And yes we see too that he has given himself some wriggle room.

Because closer and closer in Bosnia & Herzegovina can be pushed out further and further.

The Big Reveal

The story: Of the visionaries

What will happen for the Big Reveal is something that all the top agents might want to take on board for their particular big news.

Of course the priest warmed us all up with a retelling of the story which is helpful if you don’t know it.

He recalled: ‘When the apparitions began I was in the parish of Tihaljina, located just 33 km from Medjugorje.

‘When I heard about the apparitions of Our Lady, I immediately believed that they were true.

‘I was sure the young visionaries  from Bosnia and Herzegovina would never joke about such things.’

Mother of God

A beardie man: And one of the visionaries

The holy man, by now in full flow, went on to share what he had been told…

About how The Mother of God looked which was well for being over 2,,000 years old.

He said: ‘She is an incredibly beautiful woman, about 20 years old, one metre and 65 centimetres tall, fair complexion and pink cheeks.

‘She exudes unspeakable goodness, sweetness and joy. Her eyes are beautiful, deep blue, she has black eyebrows and hair.

‘She wears a blue-grey dress that covers her whole body.

“And she is lost in a white cloud that hides her feet and on which she floats.

‘She wears a white veil that covers her head, shoulders and back and comes down to her hips.

‘She wears no jewels, but has a crown with twelve golden stars on her head.

‘It is impossible to invent this description.’

I’ve got a secret

The pilgrims: On their way to Apparition Mountain

And, of course, you don’t have to be a journo or broadcaster to know what the next question was…

To which Fr Petar unsurprisingly talked around like any of the best politicians: ‘It can be said that they concern particular events that will happen at a certain time and place.

‘When this will happen we have not yet known.

‘But we have the present that with each passing day, we are getting closer and closer to that moment .

‘The message of every secret will contain this teaching: the life that God has given us, the time we live are gifts from God for us.’

And here’s a secret (on travel blogs they are for sharing surely) I gleaned from a relative of one of the Little Shepherds from Fatima.

This is what it will look like

How’s that Franciscan beard coming along? Along the Pilgrim Trail

And so how will the Big Reveal look?

Fr Petar excitedly goes on: ‘Mirjana will deliver me ten days before something similar to a letter-sized parchment that Our Lady gave her.

‘To remember when every secret would happen.

‘All the secrets are written on it.

‘But I will only be able to read and reveal the first secret (drumroll please).

‘In that moment, I will be able to see only that secret and not the others.

‘This will happen for each secret.

Charity in action: Mary’s Meals

‘Later I will have to fast and prepare for seven consecutive days.

‘And then, three days before, I will be able to reveal exactly what and where it will happen.

‘At what precise hour and minute and how long what is contained in that given secret will last.’

‘Mirjana said that the first two secrets are linked to Medjugorje and will be warnings and recommendations.

‘The third secret will be the visible sign on the apparition hill at Podbrdo and will be a great joy and consolation for all.’

Messenger from above

Marian Pilgrimages: And put yourself in the hands of the experts

Franciscans are the ones with the big beards… though I don’t know where Father Petar’s is (I’m sure there’s an explanation).

One Franciscan related to me on my pilgrimage there that he burnt his with a candle on one occasion) is a messenger par excellence for Our Lady.

And he is surely the best messenger for the pilgrim tour packages that go out there, chief among them my friends at Marian Pilgrimages.

And a word here too about the real spirit of giving as enounced by Mary’s Meals, on the ground in Medjugorje and around the world.

He leaves us religious tourists with a holy call to arms.

‘We are witnesses of how every year a multitude of pilgrims come here to Medjugorje.

“To pray to the Queen of Peace and their number will surely increase when the secrets are revealed.’

It’s all a matter of faith but would you want to miss 2022 the year of the Big Medjugorje Reveal?





Asia, Countries, Europe

Old Man Frost a gift to the world

I’ve been hearing it for years, my father-in-law Old Man Frost a gift to the world.

Only the truth is it’s not that it’s not him, the train enthusiast we know as Yorkshire’s Casey Jones.

No, this Old Man Frost is actually called Ded Moroz and he’s coming your way.

If you live in East Europe or South-East Europe that is.

Ded Moroz

Old Man Frost, Old Woman Frost… and Coolio J

I’m indebted to my buddy Peter for flagging up that Old Man Frost (no, not mine) is on the move.

Though I suspect he didn’t see him first hand on the Russian Metro.

Ded Moroz’s story does indeed start in Russia but long, long ago… before Christianity.

Frostie the Showman

Blue for you: Old Frostie

Ded (let’s just call him Frostie) lives in Veliky Ustyug, 500 miles north of Moscow.

And Russian families make pilgrimages there which is probably where we found him on the train.

And, yes, you can see for yourself, but this is the dress code for your Frostie.

His fur coat is ankle long and is embroidered with silvery stars and crosses.

And his hat should be red and embroidered with pearls.

Frostie wears mittens and a wide white belt. He has high boots with silver ornamentation, but on an exceptionally chilly day can opt for valenki!

And he carries a twisted pikestaff made of silver or crystal.

It is said to help the oul fella weave his way through the deep dark forest in the winter.

Kids often tease Ded Moroz calling him “Ded Moroz the Red Nose.”

And his young helper

Two for the price of one: And an Ice Maiden

Note here that our Frostie is not so easily teasable.

And who is Frostie’s young helper here?

Well, none other than Snegurochka, the Ice Maiden, his granddaughter.

And again we have one of them here who is the apple of her grandfather’s eye.

They travel wide and far

The new Old Frostie and his Little Helper

Frostie is a bit of a shape-shifter… I know all about them from the fjords.

And you can find versions of Frostie and his little helper across the former Soviet Union.

The real thing: Bandanaman and buddie

And in Bulgaria and in the Slavic countries in the Balkans.

I dare say if I were to go back to Bosnia & Herzegovina at this time of the year I’d see Old Frostie.

Old Man Frost on the move

Another West v East battle: Santa v Frostie

So with the bottom of our trees empty a thought on where the gifts are still waiting to be handed out.

Santie is having a well-deserved rest back in Lapland but Old Frostie is on the move.

Yes, that Old Man Frost a gift to the World.



Countries, Europe, Food, Pilgrimage, UK

World Porridge Day

Someone’s been eating my porridge but I’m no grumpy bear… after all it is World Porridge Day.

The idea is the brainchild of Magnus and Fergus MacFarlane-Barrow.

And it is designed to shine light and raise money for Mary’s Meals.

Mary’s Meals is a real Scottish success as it has helped to raise money for starving children in developing countries.

It has its origins in Argyll on the West Coast of Scotland.

And in Medjugorje in Bosnia & Herzegovina where pilgrims pay homage to Our Lady.

Medge to shout home about

On pilgrimage: Medjugorje

The Mother of God having interrupted a group of children, some of whom had been watching the big basketball game on TV.

The MacFarlane-Barrows were so inspired by Medjugorje and the spirit engendered by Our Lady and the devotees as to take action.

That and the travails of the Balkans people through their renewed conflict turned the brothers’ minds to charitable deeds.

Visitors to Medge will find the Mary’s Meals hut as a centre-point of the village, just up the main street from the church.

What the Butler saw

Answering the call: For Mary’s Meals

You’ll hear the history of the movement, watch Gerard Butler endorse the efforts of the Mary’s Meals helpers and get a feed.

Now my old friends at Mary’s Meals have been in touch this week to flag up who else they have got on board to promote them.

Mother’s Pride: Ferne and Sunday

TOWIE’s Ferne McCann is a star of ITV programme First Time Mum.

And she has taken part in a cooking challenge ahead of today and also brought out a recipe.

Salt of the earth

You put sugar in mine… when it should be salt

Porridge, of course, has been a hearty favourite in these parts and around the world for ever.

Traditionalists (guilty) swear by making your oats with water.

And then serving it with milk and salt.

Although the more sweet-toothed modern diner will add almost anything.

Sweet enough: But if you want to sweeten up your porridge

All of which blinded my eyes as I eyed the blackboard in my cafe when out for my Sunday breakfast.

Of course the best place to have your porridge is Medjugorje.

And, of course, I raised a spoon to World Porridge Day and my pals in Medge from my pilgrimage there with Marian Pilgrimages.



Countries, Europe, Ireland, Sport, UK

We’ll always stay friends Croatia

And while all those of a Scottish variety will be hoping we beat them today we’ll always stay friends Croatia.

Scotland’s Euro 2020 hopes hang on them winning against the Balkan belters.

In 2018 Croatia’s international dreams were far higher.

As they prepared for the World Cup Final against France.

One Dalmatian

Pearl of the Adriatic: Dubrovnik

The Croatians who I’d got to know and love while living in Ireland.

As a guest of their embassy and Croatia Tours were filled with excitement.

And good Dalmatian wine.

All of which I helped them imbibe on the morning of the World Cup Final.

Before, and this is to my eternal shame, I switched camps and saw the game and celebrated with the French at their embassy.

The World Cup Final

Shout it from the rooftops: Croatia

And this allows me to say that I watched France win the World Cup Final in France.

The embassy land always belonging to that country.

And the Croatians being the good eggs that they are they didn’t hold any of that against me.

And put out the red and white checked carpet for me when I went on another different type of pilgrimage, to Medjugorje.

Now geographic pedants will point out that Medge, as it’s known to devotees to the Marian site, is in Bosnia & Herzegovina.

And yes it is, but try telling that to the Croat-daft residents of that village for whom the only religion to rival Catholicism is football.

The Gods of Medge

Dressed to kill: Medjugorje

Captain Luka Modric is something of a God in Medge with tops with his name emblazoned on them hanging from every shop.

And it is a familiar aspect of other countries I have visited for religion and football to coexist in such harmony.

I saw it first hand in Rome where Francisco Totti is as omnipresent as the Pope.

And again in Fatima in Portugal where Cristiano Ronaldo is a deity.

I witnessed just how passionate the Croatians are about their football when we were taking downtime from church in Medge.

And we were watching the Champions League in the Irish Centre.

Dynamic Croatians

If onlys: Beaten World Cup finalists Croatia

Which for ‘Elvis’ the name our group had given the owner meant his beloved Dynamo Zagreb.

Apologies again for not memorising the club song he blasted out on the speakers before the game.

So that’s twice I haven’t taken up the Croatians’ clarion call.

And national identity and an accident of birth means I again will have to make my apologies when Scotland eliminate Croatia.

I hope though we’ll always stay friends Croatia.