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The Pilgrimage that Changed My Heart

Medjugorje is the place clear across the ocean near a part of the world of Croatia. It was the year 2004 when I had the opportunity to travel to this beautiful place called Medjugorje.  It is a beautiful little village in the South of Bosnia Herzegovina. The Adriatic Sea that’s less than 50 miles away, a hometown where 6 alleged visionaries claimed to have seen the mother of God in 1981.  I had been reading a book entitled Our Lady of Medjugorje, known as the queen of peace. I often had dreams of traveling there, not ever expecting to travel so far from home, but I felt as though I was being called.  The opportunity came unexpectedly.

I realize that there are many many people that based on different faiths and different thoughts and different ideas and unbelief, do not believe in such a place but many have traveled there its life-changing. It is said that Medjugorje attracts and fascinates, sometimes surprises, shocks, and even outrageous. Never changing for nearly 35 years it has aroused great emotions among those who believe, doubt, or refuse to believe. I had just gone through a tough time in my life that requires no explanation at this point other than the fact that I felt alone and abandoned. The journey to this beautiful place began with a group consisting of about 200 people, and several priests as we embarked on this journey together, but not without some obstacles along the way.

The one part of our journey that I will never forget and that did create fear for the first time in my life of perhaps not waking up the next morning came when we had to take a ferry at one point from a small port in the Adriatic Sea that had to cross to where we were going to debark the following morning. As it turned out, not only did the ferry carry the 200 people but also the five buses below its deck along with our luggage.  All of us had rooms that would be below sea level, which before the following morning, would have many feeling a sense of easiness.

But my story is not about the journey to arrive here but rather what happened and the experience I encountered once there. The town has grown immensely since 2004, where the thousands of pilgrims that journey there every year can find comfortable lodging and wonderful meals prepared for them during their stay by the villagers themselves.

Upon our arrival, we were settled into a beautiful bed and breakfast that was owned by one of the villagers.  The beautiful church there, the Church of Saint James, is considered the center of spiritual life not only for parishioners but also for pilgrims visiting the sanctuary from the farthest corners of the world. One evening after dinner had been served, I stepped out into the backyard, with its beautiful landscape of where we were staying and there was a beautiful statue of the blessed mother. I went to her and began to speak with her as tears began to well up in my eyes and I found myself crying uncontrollably. My relationship with my children was nonexistent, the divorce had left me in a state of sorrow and sadness for many reasons, but I spoke of the child that I had lost at the age of 19. I spoke of my belief and my faith in God that this part of my life was always going to be looming over me and I needed to know that I could be at peace and be forgiven.

Suddenly it was as though a veil had been placed over me and I felt a sense of peace that I cannot explain. I knew that I had been heard and that my tears were not in vain.

It seems like a long time since my journey there, but I have not forgotten my experience and how it changed me in a way that allowed me to continue in life no matter what. Crowds of pilgrims continually come every year seeking rest, forgiveness, and spiritual strength needed for many things, but for me it was life-changing to allow me to continue living, knowing that regardless of the loneliness or the feeling of abandonment one feels there is one person that I know I can always turn to. That is our Lord and Savior and his beautiful mother. The unique powerful atmosphere of Medjugorje makes many of those who have visited want to return. Perhaps someday I will. I would love to have my husband journey there with me, but for now, I’ll be content with my memories of Podbrdo Hill, a steep and rocky path that is not an easy climb, but one that can change a soul.

If you are not familiar with this place and are curious, I would suggest that you read its history, whether you are a believer of faith of any kind or not at all it’s worth a glance.

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Lynn Forrester-Pitocco
Lynn Forrester-Pitocco
LYNN is Retired from Law Enforcement as a Police Officer, with a background in nursing and previously a member of the Search and Rescue Team with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, A retired member of the Orange Police Department, she became the first female SWAT member on an elite team while becoming a member of the Olympic Shooting Team during the early years on the department. A mother and a grandmother, a devout Catholic who currently resides in Houston, Texas. Her hobbies include writing, painting, and a contemplative prayer life. She is in love with her faith, but the love she carries for her two grown children and grandchildren who rest in her heart surpasses everything except her faith in God. Since retirement, Lynn has done private investigation, worked as a gang counselor with middle schools, A member of Bl. Mother Teresa’s Order called the (Lay Missionaries of Charity), she is also a pro-life advocate, often called upon to give testimony and speak to youth groups, as well as adult forums. She has published a children’s book entitled “The Children’s Garden” and is currently working on two additional children’s books. She is currently working on the major one focused on her experience in Law Enforcement entitled “Heels and a Badge”. (copyright). Her paintings and sketches, writings, can be viewed on her Pinterest boards (click on the Pinterest ICON below). Her dream is to one-day write a movie for Hallmark. Dreams do come true … See Lynn’s entire collection of thought-provoking Articles by clicking on her byline. Lynn is a contributing author to the inspiring book Chaos to Clarity: Sacred Stories of Transformational Change.

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