“At this moment, in the heart of summer, the Lord invites you to take a vacation with him in the most special place there is — your heart,” the pope said in the message that he signed on July 16, the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
The Medjugorje Youth Festival, also known as “Mladifest,” is focused on prayer and includes daily Mass, Eucharistic adoration, and a candlelight procession.
The theme of this year’s festival is inspired by Christ's words in the Gospel of Matthew: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Pope Francis said that the Lord knows “how difficult life can be and that there are many things that strain our hearts: many disappointments, various wounds from the past, burdens that we carry and injustices we bear, many uncertainties and worries.”
“Jesus tells us, ‘Come to me and learn from me.’ This is an invitation to move, not to stand still, frozen and afraid before life, and to rely on Him. It sounds easy, but in dark moments it becomes natural to close-in on ourselves. Instead, Jesus wants to pull us out, so He says, ‘Come.’ The way out is via relationship, in looking up to the One who truly loves us.”
The alleged Marian apparitions in Medjugorje have been a source of controversy and conversion since their beginning, with many flocking to the city for pilgrimage and prayer, and some claiming to have experienced miracles at the site, while many others claim the visions are not credible.
The purported apparitions originally began on June 24, 1981, when six children in Medjugorje, a town in what is now Bosnia and Herzegovina, began to experience phenomena that they have claimed to be apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
According to the alleged visionaries, the apparitions conveyed a message of peace for the world, a call to conversion, prayer, and fasting, as well as certain secrets surrounding events to be fulfilled in the future.
These apparitions are said to have continued almost daily since their first occurrence, with three of the original six children – who are now young adults – continuing to receive apparitions every afternoon because not all of the “secrets” intended for them have been revealed.
In January 2014, a Vatican commission ended a nearly four-year-long investigation into the doctrinal and disciplinary aspects of the Medjugorje apparitions and submitted a document to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.