Tuesday, June 26, 2018


[The following article, by Berniece Duello, was posted on the web with permission by Chicken Soup For The Soul LLC. I have copied it to here. It doesn’t necessarily describe a miracle. Then again, it might. You decide].

For all of my ninety years, I’ve had a great devotion to the Virgin Mary. I didn’t believe that Mary could answer prayers, but that she was an intercessor to her son, Jesus. While I was raising eight children, I needed all the interceding I could get! I turned to her often, mother to mother. A statue of the Blessed Virgin sat prominently on our buffet and fresh flowers adorned her, especially in May.

I knew Mary had appeared to youngsters in Lourdes, France, and to children in Guadalupe, Mexico. Then in the 1980s, I read new accounts of Mary appearing to youngsters in Medjugorje, Bosnia (and Hercegovina). Intrigued by the modern-day miracle, I bought books about it, subscribed to the Medjugorje Magazine, attended seminars on the topic… and bought a ticket to Bosnia (and Hercegovina).

At eighty years old, with  back problems and a mild heart condition, I didn’t know if I could climb the mountain, but I just knew I was supposed to go… to be there… to see where Mary had appeared.

I didn’t go planning to see a miracle, but many who had been there did. There were hundreds of accounts of miraculous healings and faith conversions.

Our tour group arrived in Medjugorje late one damp November night. The next morning we learned our scheduled trek had been postponed, due to the rain and slippery slopes. One younger man who had made the trip twice before, said he could wait no longer… he was climbing the mile-long mountain path right then.

I said, “Me too.”

So with more determination than strength, I set off for the climb. I was surprised to see the trail was only jagged rocks. Step by cautious step, I slowly hiked upward, past a woman even older than I kneeling in prayerful meditation… past a half dozen rowdy ten year old boys running and yelping with joy. They raced ahead of me; later I came upon them again kneeling in quiet prayer.

Within two hours, I stood in breathless wonder and awe at the top of the mountain, on the very site the virgin had appeared. I knelt in the sprinkling rain and did what I always do… I prayed for her children.

The trek was even more difficult than the ascent. Each step on the rugged rocks jarred me as I struggled to find stable footing. The rain intensified as we wound our way through the foreign streets of the city. I returned to the group, soaking wet but marvelling that, not only had I made the climb, I had done so without my usual pain. “Maybe that was the miracle,” I mused.

The next day was just another day in war-torn Bosnia (and Hercegovina), but it was Thanksgiving Day in the States… and the tour guide had a plan to make it a day of Thanksgiving in Medjugorje too. On every tour the staff purchased and distributed groceries and supplies to the most needy in the community. All of the dozen members of our tour group readily offered to contribute to the fund and help with the deliveries.

Our large bus stopped at the grocery store where the ordered bags of goods were loaded into the back. Carefully, we counted the twenty-four garbage-size bags. Local church and government officials had made a list of the twenty-four families in most desperate need, and the bus headed off to share Thanksgiving with them.

The first stop was a shanty with the roof partly blown off. My new friends and I filed past damaged household furniture sitting on the dirt lawn and entered the one room the family of four occupied. Laughing, smiling, and crying, the old couple accepted the food and supplies. Two young boys in clean ragged clothes chattered their gratitude while their toddler brother clung to the grandma’s leg, whining and fussing. Their parents were tortured and killed by the enemy, the tour guide had explained. Yet the family jubilantly hugged us goodbye and we headed off to the next stop.

The bus driver seemed to have the route and stops memorised from the many trips before. At the next run-down house, a wrinkled old woman in a headscarf stood waving from her cluttered front porch. As our group entered, she placed her hands on each of our faces and kissed us, one by one, thanking us in her native tongue. Inside we gathered in one of the two rooms left standing in her once three-bedroom home. There she prayed, not for herself, but for us, her guests.

The driver stopped next at a ramshackle house at the end of a lane, and before the tour guide could say, “They aren’t on our list this time,” a man and two young boys raced toward the bus clapping for joy. At the directive of the tour guide, the bus pulled away, leaving them looking forlorn and rejected.

“Can’t we please leave them some food?” I politely protested as I looked back at the family waving sadly.

“We only have twenty-four bags,” the guide explained, her voice thick with sorrow. “We have other families waiting for these. We promised them.”

The team sat, despondent, until the driver stopped at yet another war-damaged home. There, a couple who looked even older than I cared for two grown sons, both suffering from a wasting muscular disease. Yet their faith and joy exceeded ours as they crowded the entire group into their tiny kitchen to pray… and share food the old woman had prepared for us.

And so went the day, house after house, family after family, each physically destitute and spiritually wealthy.

“That’s twenty-four!” the guide said as she checked the last name off the list after the final stop.

“No, twenty-three,” someone corrected. “there is one bag of food left.”

Dumbfounded, the group looked in the back of the bus to see one lone bag of food.

“We all counted the bags and the people on the list three times,” one member said.

“There was no error,” our guide said, then beamed. “Are there loaves an fishes in that bag?”

The entire team stared at each other first in confusion, then in awe, then in elation. We cheered. “Let’s go!”

The bus returned to the ramshackle house at the end of the lane and the man and two boys raced out, as if they were expecting us.