The parish of Međugorje is located in the Herzegovina region, around 25 km southwest of Mostar. The whole region is populated by Croats who were converted to Christianity more than 13 centuries ago. This town is mentioned for the first time in historical documents in 1599. The current parish was founded in 1892 and it is devoted to the apostle Saint James, the Patron of Pilgrims.
Until June 24, 1981, the inhabitants of Međugorje lived just as the inhabitants of any other village in the region: they worked the land, cultivated tobacco and had vineyards, produced vine and cultivated vegetables in order to have sufficient means for a modest way of living of their families. Due to social circumstances, many of them left abroad: across the ocean and to other cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia.
On June 24, 1981, around 18:00, six young people – Ivanka Ivanković, Mirjana Dragičević, Vicka Ivanković, Ivan Dragičević, Ivan Ivanković and Milka Pavlović saw a young woman holding a child on Crnica hill, several meters above Podbrdo. The woman waved her hand, signaling them to come nearer. Since they were surprised and afraid, they did not approach her.
On the next day, June 25, 1981, at the same time, the four of them, Ivanka Ivanković, Mirjana Dragičević, Vicka Ivanković and Ivan Dragičević, felt a strong need to go back to the spot from the day before where they saw the person that they recognized as the Lady. Marija Pavlović and Jakov Čolo joined them. The group of visionaries from Međugorje was thus established. They prayed and talked to the Lady. June 25 is thus celebrated as the anniversary of the apparition. According to the visionaries, from that day on they had apparitions on a daily basis, both within the group and individually, wherever they were. Milka Pavlović and Ivan Ivanković have never seen the Lady again.
On the third day of apparition, June 26, 1981, the Lady invited for peace for the first time with the following words: "Peace, peace, peace – and only peace! There must be peace between God and man and between men!"
Being attracted by the apparitions and messages of the Lady, people – first the inhabitants of the parish, and then also the inhabitants of the neighboring parishes and the whole world – started gathering and praying. The persecution of the visionaries, their parents and family, inhabitants of the parish and priests, and even pilgrims started immediately after the first apparitions. The visionaries were repeatedly taken to the police station for questioning and psychiatric exams, but they showed that they were healthy. The same conclusion was reached after other exams that they were subject to over the coming years.