Today we unite with the parish of Medjugorje, in remembering the 83rd anniversary, of the completion of the building of the Cross on Križevac and the first Holy Mass being celebrated there in thanksgiving.
Pope Pius XI
In 1933, Pope Pius XI proclaimed a Holy year to mark the 1900th anniversary of the crucifixion and death of Jesus, Our Lord and Saviour. He had a dream that, a cross was to be raised on the “highest Golgotha in Herzegovina.”
Fra Bernardin Smoljan was Parish Priest in Medjugorje and on the 21st Jan 1934 decided to build a cross to commemorate the anniversary and to respond to the Holy Father’s call.
Altruistically, the parishioners worked, climbing the 5,300ft mountain, – difficult rocky terrain, carrying cement, sand, water, tools and all the necessary materials required to build this cross. As a result of Pope Pius’ dream, Fra. Smoljan and his parishioners were given a relic of The True Cross of Jesus and this was built into the arm of the cross. The relic was obtained from the larger part of the True Cross that remains in the church of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem, in Rome.
The parishioners worked with such dedication and motivation, in bitter climate and completed the 8.5-meter cross within 52 days, on the 15th March 1934. An entry in the parish archives revealed that the parishioners performed this difficult task “in order to leave to their descendants a clear and visible proof of their deep faith in the Redeemer”. The cross was blessed on 16th March 1934 and the first Holy Mass was celebrated there.
The Parish priest wrote in his report, about those days:
“On March 16, 1934 a great group of people in procession started their journey towards the Mountain from the Church, and amongst them, members of the Franciscan Third Order, who carried the flag of their brotherhood proclaiming the Name of Jesus, school children, priests and numerous people. The bells in the church rang all the time. Men were shooting in the air with their festive guns, people prayed the Rosary, sang Litanies of Blessed Virgin Mary, and this procession moved slowly towards the Mountain top that was already packed with people who were looking at this procession, as well as at other groups that approached from different sides. The Holy ceremonies began at 10 a.m. I gave the appropriate speech to the people, read a letter from His Eminence the Bishop, as well as other speeches of congratulations and regards from different sides. After that, I performed the solemn blessing of the Holy Cross, and then with huge ovations from the people I changed the name of mountain from Šipovac to Križevac (Cross Mounatain). After the blessing, I celebrated Holy Mass and the Homily was given by parish priest from Studenci Fr. Grgo Vasilj.”
Before the erection of the cross, Medjugorje had experienced many thunder, lightning and hail storms and inclement weather that destroyed the crops of the parishioners. As a consequence, the parishioners suffered tremendous hardship and loss of income. Once the cross was built, the storms ceased.
The following is inscribed on the cross:
JESUS CHRIST, REDEEMER OF MANKIND.
AS A SIGN OF OUR FAITH, OUR LOVE
AND OUR HOPE.
BUILT BY PASTOR BERNADIN SMOLJAN
AND THE PARISHIONERS OF MEDJUGORJE.
FREE ALL OF US FROM ALL EVIL,
O JESUS. “.
Our Lady, said of this Cross, in Her message of
August 30, 1984
“Dear children, the cross was also in God’s plan when you built it. These days especially, go on the mountain and pray before the cross. I need your prayers. Thank you for having responded to my call.”
Holy Mass is celebrated twice a year on Krizevac the first is on the feast of the Transfiguration (6th August) and the second is on the Feast of the Exaltation (Triumph) of the Cross.
Bishop Alojzije Misic ordered the Solemnity of the Exaltation of the Cross of Christ to be celebrated every year on the first Sunday after the Nativity of Mary and then the Holy Mass is celebrated.