Scientific Studies


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It was the police who first initiated a psychological examination of the visionaries. Fr. Laurentin has said this should not be interpreted as harassment by a Marxist regime. This would be a normal reaction by anyone who was faced with the kind of confusion and excitement the police were faced with when thousands of people began flooding the village of Medjugorje to seek out these visionaries. It would, of course, be important to establish that the children were not psychologically impaired. But it should also be noted that the communist regime did suspect an uprising of which they did harass and oppress the people.

 

As Fr. Laurentin commented,

“…any administration can legitimately ask: is this normal or pathological? If one were in the presence of a psychosis, then the interests of public health would justify submitting the entire affair to a psychiatrist.”1


What then began on June 27, 1981 with the first documented testing of the Medjugorje visionaries, would become an ongoing task of many medical doctors specializing in psychology, psychiatry, neurology of various kinds and hypotherapy, along with specialists studying the Medjugorje visionaries bodily conditions involving their heart, sight, hearing, voice, brain and sensitivity to pain. The doctors listed in this writing are primarily those in the medical and scientific fields.


Keep in mind that all the visionaries have been scrutinized and studied just as thoroughly from experts in the area of theology and from members from the hierarchy of the Church. This often happened while the visionaries were unaware of it, as many came in cognito to Medjugorje. The visionaries were also interrogated and threatened many times by the communist police in the early days of the apparitions. Never in the history of the Church has any group of individuals been so studied and scrutinized by so many different kinds of experts and people from around the world, with the variety and complexity of the technological equipment that science offers today, for so long a period of time, as these six Medjugorje visionaries: Mirjana, Ivanka, Vicka, Marija, Ivan and Jakov. That fact in itself should give pause to even the most convinced atheist.


Name: Dr. Ante Bijevic

Place & Date of Testing: Citluk, June 27, 1981

The police from Citluk accompanied the children to Dr. Ante Bijevic ‘s office, a local doctor. He found the visionaries to be well balanced and did not think it necessary to detain them. Having been with the doctor for quite some time, and while he was examining Ivan, an impatient Vicka, ready to return to Medjugorje, interrupted the session.
 

Vicka: “Is it not finished?”

Dr. Bijevic: “It is not your turn, but you may sit down.”

Vicka: “Thanks be to God, I am young and healthy, I can remain standing. And then, when I do need a medical examination, I’ll come of my own accord. Now, is it all over?”2


Perhaps, in any other situation, this would have been taken as impertinence, but from Dr. Bijevic’s point of view in looking at the psychological health of his subject, it showed good sense and he allowed her to go.

Name: Dr. Dzudza Mulija

Place & Date of Testing:
Mostar, June 29, 1981

This was the final examination that would take place through the direct request of the local police authorities. The visionaries were taken to a psychiatric hospital in Mostar, the nearest large city to Medjugorje, where they were examined by Dr. Dzudza Mulija. They arrived early in the morning and not released until two in the afternoon. According to Vicka, at the end of the examinations, Dr. Dzudza concluded:

“It is the people who brought you here that are insane. You are absolutely normal.”3


Name: Fr. Slavko Barbaric, Doctor of Social Psychology & Spiritual Theology

Place & Date of Testing: Medjugorje, 1982

Test or Procedure:
Fr. Slavko Barabic, for several months administered psychological tests to the children in Medjugorje. Fr. Slavko, in 1982, published a methodical analysis of the group of visionaries, which was translated into Italian in De Apparizioni di Medjugorje, Milan 1984. What he determined through his study is that the impressive “unity, cohesiveness, and interrelations4 that was exhibited among the visionaries could not be explained by anything that emanated from themselves, but that
 

“these derive from that to which the group has reference, namely the apparitions.”5


In his observations, he established two conclusions:
 

1. The group of young people is markedly distinct in character; there are boys and girls, of different ages and of extremely different temperaments. The phenomenon is not explicable as the action of a leader, nor as the activity of an external manipulator but only as the apparition which forms and directs the group. Ecstasy has not diminished but rather enhanced the identity and freedom of the visionaries and this includes their vocation. They understand the desire of the Virgin but she has left them free and they in turn feel absolutely free to make their own decisions.

2. The apparitions show no signs of hallucination; neither the character nor the psychological profile of the young people, their history nor their lifestyle provide an argument in favor of hallucination.6


Name: Dr. Ludvik Stopar, psychiatrist & parapsychologist from Slovenia

Place & Date of Testing: Medjugorje, May & November 1982, June & November 1983

The Tests or Procedures: Dr. Ludvik Stopar was the first doctor to examine the visionaries while in a state of ecstasy. He also used hypnosis to determine whether the children were being manipulated or not. He chose Medjugorje visionary, Marija, for the subject of this test because she appeared to be “the most intelligent and mature of [the six] and…therefore the most suitable for the test.7 However, he hypnotized her without her knowledge or consent.
 

“If I had asked, I am sure she would have refused. In therapy one does not ask permission.”8


He believed it possible to isolate the 90% conscious level of the mind in order to detect possible manipulation. Marija was asked to describe the visions. This question was then repeated to her under hypnosis and her replies came from her subconscious. 9 There was no difference in her conscious account and the one given under hypnosis, which ruled out manipulation.

Dr. Stopar, a large man, stood in front of Marija during ecstasy, to see if by doing so would block the vision. After the apparition, Marija said that she continued to see the Virgin Mary but noticed a light haze in the apparition.10

All other testing by Dr. Stopar was confined to observations, tests without equipment, and other non-quantifiable methods. Though his findings were important, he recognized that his own abilities & equipment were limited and he recommended much further scientific investigation.

Conclusions:
The test battery indicated that the visionaries were normal in every respect. There were no psycho-pathological indications. It was shown that under hypnosis, there was no sign of the visionary being under a manipulated influence. There were definite objective characteristics of the visionaries during ecstasy that could be observed and studied, and these characteristics indicated a “transcendent” origin. Lastly, Dr. Stopar collaborated with Fr. Laurentin’s position that the visionaries are not taken over by a different personality, or medium, but are always aware of their identity.

His recommendation to the Bishop’s commission over Medjugorje was that a canonical process should examine objectively and rigorously the visionaries so to establish that the experience of the visionaries are the result of a supernatural encounter with God, and not “the result of human manipulation.”11

But Dr. Stopar’s personal observations led him to believe they were dealing with the supernatural. To the question, “Do parapsychologists react differently to these phenomena in the spiritual world?”, Dr Stopar responded with the following statement:
 

“There are three different approaches: the first, atheist; the second, Christian; the third based on the hypothesis of unknown forces. I am also interested in unknown forces but my approach is theological and I had the impression of coming into contact with a supernatural reality at Medjugorje.”12


Name: Dr. Nikola Bartulica, A Croatian Psychiatrist, originally from Split, but now lives in USA;

Place & Date of Testing: Medjugorje, October 1981, and 1989


Test or Procedure: Dr. Bartulica was among the first to examine the visionaries. In October 1981, he examined Vicka for nearly two hours, all the while she was unaware that he was a psychiatrist. He stated the following about that visit:
 

“When a psychiatrist hears that a person has visions, he first wonders if that person is mentally healthy. So I asked Vicka what did she see, hear, how did she react. She answered spontaneously, without fear or hesitation, and you could see that this was a determined, completely normal person….In psychiatry, you can quickly determine if a person is sincere.”13


In 1989, Dr. Bartulica returned to Medjugorje to carry out new psychiatric tests on the visionaries. In Medjugorje, he spoke to Marija, Ivan, Vicka, Mirjana and Ivanka. Only Jakov Colo was absent. “I examined each of them for half an hour and a pilgrim from California recorded it with a video camera so there is evidence of the event.14 Dr. Bartulica presented his conclusions on the Medjugorje phenomenon in the book Are the Visionaries Telling the Truth?, published in 1991 in Chicago.

Conclusions:

In October, 1981,

“I asked Vicka what did she see, hear, how did she react. She answered spontaneously, without fear or hesitation, and you could see that this was a determined, completely normal person.”15


In watching Vicka in ecstasy for the first time, four years after his first interview with her, he said:
 

“She was very expressive. I was watching her moving her lips, nodding…It made me think, if she doesn’t see the Blessed Mother, and is just staring into the wall like the rest of us, and behaves in such a manner, then she is making fools of all of us! You have to ask yourself if it is possible that she is deceiving us. The answer is that it might be possible, but if that was the case, all the six seers are capable of this simultaneously for a period of 25 years! That in itself would be a phenomenon! And anyway that cannot be, because it has been established scientifically that their ecstasies are authentic. Besides, there is no such case in the history of psychiatry that six children start simultaneously hallucinating at 6:40 p.m. (every evening)!” says the psychiatrist. “It does not take an expert though to tell that the children were normal, sincere, and that their experience was not invented.” 16


He said that he has met many people in his line of business that were faking their experiences. But in the case of the visionaries of Medjugorje he is completely convinced that they have had the experience they testify to. He has visited Medjugorje more than 20 times and has often attended the apparitions.


Name: Dr. Mario Botta, a Heart Surgeon from Milan

Place & Date of Testing: Medjugorje, March 23-24, 1983 & December 8-9, 1983

Test or Procedure:
Dr. Mario Botta came to Medjugorje with a team of Italian doctors to specifically test the heart pattern of the visionaries while in ecstasy. On December 8-9, 1983, Dr. Botta observed the visionaries and took Ivan’s pulse. In taking Ivan’s pulse, Dr. Mario pushed Ivan’s watch strap up his arm. Ivan seemed oblivious to this. The pulse was normal.


On March 23-24, 1983, an electrocardiogram was performed on Ivan, or what is known as a Holter test.17 This test allows a continuous monitoring of heart rate and rhythm during usual daily activities. A Holter monitor is used to identify heart rhythm disturbances. Electrodes are placed on the front of the chest and the electrode wires are then attached to a small, portable, battery-operated recorder. The recorder continuously records and stores the heart rhythm for usually 24 hours. Once the monitor has been removed, a physician analyzes the heart rhythm. Ivan’s electrocardiogram tested normal. The test on Ivan began ten minutes before the apparition and continued until after the Mass which followed. Ivan, then ended the test, asking to have the equipment removed because he wanted to join his prayer group on Cross Mountain, a mountain that overlooks the village of Medjugorje. The prayer meeting had been arranged before Ivan knew of the testing.18

Conclusion:
Dr. Botta concluded that:
 

“ecstasy does not alter or suppress normal physiology but somehow transcends it, placing the visionary on a higher plane. It is, therefore, impossible to study apparitions using the ordinary method of diagnosing symptoms.”19


Because of this, Dr. Botta concluded that the apparitions “calls for an openness of faith to the Virgin whom the Medjugorje visionaries claim to see.”20

An Interesting Fact:


Fr. Rene Laurentin relays his first meeting with Dr. Botta. Fr. Laurentin was actually at the March 23rd apparition while Dr. Botta was administering his tests. The visionaries stood up at the end of the apparition and according to Fr. Laurentin, they said:
 

‘The Virgin smiled at seeing him(Ivan) in harness. We asked Her what She thought. She answered: “It is not necessary.” Dr. Botta was extremely attentive to the negative side of this statement. ‘”Not necessary”, does not mean that there is blame attaching,’ I said to him. Father Tomislav Vlasic agreed with this interpretation. The Virgin repeats ceaselessly that the essential is prayer. Everything else, including tests, are accessories.21


However, Dr. Botta was troubled enough by the response from the apparition that he stopped his testing and left Medjugorje after completing only one test. He did feel that this test did confirm findings of his other clinical tests.

Name: Dr. Phillipe Madre

Place & Date of Testing: Medjugorje, August 23-25, 1983

Dr. Phillipe Madre founded a special clinic in Castres. Theological discernment and somatic factors are studied there. He came to Medjugorje, on the above dates, more for religious purposes than scientific ones. He was highly qualified to study the test results of the visionaries. By this time, the communist police were harassing many foreigners who were coming to Medjugorje. After only a day in Medjugorje, Dr. Madre along with the two priests who had accompanied him, were arrested and deported. Dr. Madre, having little time to process the scientific data, could only give his general impression of the phenomena, based on his intuition. Fr. Laurentin reported that Dr. Madre,
 

“…comes down unreservedly in favor of the visionaries’ physical and psychic health and also notes their spiritual development, especially in the case of Marija.”22


Date of Testing: In 1984 many different medical practitioners and professors from Italy came to Medjugorje frequently. They sometimes visited Archbishop Franic and shared their opinions of the phenomena with him. Some are on written record as to their professional judgements. They worked independently, but their findings confirmed and supported each other’s. Following is a partial list of these doctors.

Name: Dr. Maria Frederica Magatti, an Italian doctor

Place & Date of Testing: Medjugorje, February 3-4, 1984 and March 22, 1984

Test or Procedure: Dr. Maria Frederica Magatti performed a clinical analysis of an apparition that she observed on February 3-4, 1984 in Medjugorje. She studied the visionaries response to various stimulation, such as calling, touching and pinching. A cine-projector of approximately 1000 watts was shined into their eyes to see if the size of the pupils changed.

Conclusions: According to Dr. Magatti,
 

“We are dealing with ecstasy because during the events (the young people) lose contact with the surrounding world; they remained insensitive to stimulation: calling, touching, pinching—no response, not even an indication of pain in the case of pinching. A cine-projector of approximately 1000 watts was played on their eyes without causing any modification in the diameter of the pupils. Their eyelids continued to blink according to their natural rhythm. Blinking occurred spontaneously if their faces were touched.”23


Dr. Magatti also studied the body movements of the young Medjugorje visionaries. Ivan’s arm was raised during ecstasy. She observed that there was no resistance, and that his arm returned to its original position when it was released, by what looked like a voluntary movement. While kneeling, Jakov was lifted off the ground and his legs straightened out giving an appearance that they were hanging without muscular control. When lowered back down, he immediately returned to a kneeling position, apparently by a voluntary movement.24

There are two divisions of the autonomic nervous system. The sympathetic system responds to stress, when it speeds the heart rate, increases blood pressure, and generally prepares the body for action. The parasympathetic system is more important when the body is at rest, since it slows the heart rate, decreases blood pressure, and stimulates the digestive system. With the visionaries, the heartbeat remained the same and there was no indication of perspiration or tears. The only motor activity observed was voluntary, in particular the movement of the lips during conversation with the apparition.

The testing demonstrated that the visionaries were not cataleptic, which is a symptom of certain nervous disorders or condition and includes rigid body and limbs, limbs staying in the same position when moved, loss of muscle control and slowing down of bodily functions. During the apparition there was no noticeable change in the vegetative nervous system. This is the part of the nervous system that controls those functions not controlled voluntarily, including the heart rate, activity of the intestines, and the production of sweat.


From the results of her testing, Dr. Magatti testified that,
 

‘… we can deduce the absolute neurological normality of the visionaries in spite of the suspension of their consciousness of relationship with the exterior world’.25


Name: Dr. Lucia Capello, from Mostar

Place & Date of Testing: Medjugorje, February 5-6, 1984 and March 23, 1984

Dr. Lucia Capello was present at the apparitions on February 5-6 and March 23, 1984, in Medjugorje in which she observed Ivan, Jakov and Marija three times, and Vicka and Ivanka once.

Conclusions:
Dr. Capello made many of the same observtions as Dr. Magatti. In particular she noted in her report what she observed as the ‘three synchronizations’, or rather three simultaneous key movements during ecstasy:
 

1. The visionaries drop to their knees at the same time, their voices become inaudible while their lips continue to articulate.

2. The voices of the visionaries become audible at the same time, on the third word of the Our Father, the apparition having recited the first two. There is no evidence that would lead to the conclusion that the visionaries orchestrated the timing nor can there be an explanation that it happened through natural causes.

3. The eyes and heads are raised at the end of the apparition in a perfect simultaneous action; the word ‘ode’ meaning ‘She is going away’, which is uttered by one or a number of visionaries, cannot be taken as a signal; sometimes it is not pronounced at all; other times it is pronounced simultaneously by a number of the children.26


Of the three synchronizations, the first one, according to Fr. Laurentin, could possibly be attributed to natural causes, although this is not to say that “it is”, but the second and third ones have no natural explanation. What is observed, then, indicates that there is something being seen only by the visionaries that the observers cannot see while attending the Medjugorje apparitions.27

Dr. Capello also noted the following:
 

• There was no physical or mental agitation

• There was no indication that the behavior of the visionaries during ecstasy was the result of some kind of mental conditioning. Each visionary acted normally as they entered the room; they were friendly, cheerful, greeting everyone present. This continued after the apparition had ended.

• Dr. Capello observed Vicka more closely than the other visionaries while in ecstasy. She reported that Vicka had no reaction to the examinations which were carried out.

• Thirteen-year-old Jakov was raised about six inches off the ground, while in ecstasy, but showed no sign of resistance, nor did he attempt to regain his balance when he was lifted or when he was put down again. When put down, he went into a kneeling position “as if this were the point of maximum repose according to the laws of gravity.” There was no observable behavior that would indicate that there had been any preconditioning of his actions. Dr. Capello also ruled out catalepsy.28


Dr. Capello found nothing inappropriate in the behavior of the visionaries. She testified,
 

“I did not meet with any type of frustration or, indeed, any ulterior motive on the part of the visionaries. They appeared to be discreet, well-mannered, careful in their dress and in their speech and absolutely mindful of the surroundings in which they found themselves. Their behavior seemed to conform perfectly with that of young people of their own age.”29


Name: Dr. Enzo Gabrici, a Neuro-Psychiatrist from Italy

Place & Date of Testing: Medjugorje, April 4-8, 1984

Dr. Enzo Gabrici examined Ivan, Jakov, Marija and Vicka, April 4-8, 1984.

Conclusions:
These were his general observations that concerned all the visionaries he had contact with:

• All the visionaries come from ordinary backgrounds and live very normal lives in their families, school and church.

• There were no signs that the visionaries were experiencing hallucinations, an epileptic syndrome, or any disorder which could change consciousness, or even a temporary difference in their consciousness when they entered the ecstatic state.

• No evidence existed that the visionaries were giving each other signs to fall on their knees at the same time, or to explain the other synchronizations of their actions.

• It was ruled out that the visionaries are under the influence of hypnosis because in this situation, subjects are not able to remember anything while in the trance. The Medjugorje visionaries, however, remember exactly what takes place during the ecstasy, discounting the hypnosis theory.

• There is no change in the personality and identity of the visionaries in ecstasy, so the possibility of being taken over by a medium or a different personality is also discounted.

• At the moment of the apparition, their full attention is focused on the apparition, to the point of being detached from their surrounding environment. There is no explanation that the scientific tests could offer to explain this phenonmenon.30


Dr. Gabrici found Vicka to be a normal, relaxed young woman, emotionally stable, and not in the least way,
 

“a victim of human misunderstanding or of previous traumatic experience.”31


There was nothing in her history that would reveal any past trauma. After the apparitions, Vicka seemed invigorated by the experience, rather than tired, which for one who is experiencing a hysterical trance, they normally enter into a period of fatigue after it is over. Dr. Gabrici found no trace of neurosis or psychosis in Vicka.

He concluded that the visionaries
 

“…are, as it were, rapt, at the moment of the apparition…The observations offer nothing which would foster doubt about the soundness of their perceptions.” 32


Name: Professor Anna-Maria Franchini, from Italy

Place & Date of Testing:
Medjugorje, April 5, 1984

Professor Anna Maria Franchini observed four of the visionaries on April 5, 1984— Ivan, Vicka, Marija and Jakov during ecstasy. She notes:
 

• The convergence of their gaze on the cross

• The smiles of Vicka and Jakov

• The disappearance of the voices;

• The final raising of their eyes;33


Conclusion:
Professor Maria Franchini concluded that:
 

“The group is made up of a number of independent individuals. Each has his or her own attitude, but all are drawn towards an external object which holds their attention with an intensity which I have never up to this point experienced, and which in my view characterizes the uniqueness of the experience.34


Name: Fr. Nicholas Bulat, a member of the Episcopal commission assigned to study the apparitions at Medjugorje at the request of Bishop Zanic; he was not a medical or scientific doctor, but a professor of dogma at the seminary in Split

Place & Date of Testing:
Medjugorje, June 2, 1984

Test or Procedure:
Fr. Nicholas Bulat, on June 2, 1984, administered a test based on how the church had “tested the spirits” back in the Middle Ages. Though Fr. Bulat was not a doctor or scientist and his test offers no scientific validity, it does demonstrate the visionaries’ lack of sensitivity to pain during the ecstasy.

According to Fr. Laurentin, the test Fr. Bulat performed
 

“…has nothing to do with modern medicine but has its origin in a tradition dating from the middle ages. Observers had always been struck by the insensitivity of ecstatic to pain and came up with the idea of testing this insensitivity. They invented and reinvented three tests which always remained the same: burning, pinching, pricking. In Lourdes, Bernadette had been pricked twice:

‘On 23 February, Eleonore Peyrard stuck a long blackhead thorn in Bernadette’s shoulder without provoking the slightest reaction.’”35


Fr. Lauretin goes on to explain how the test was executed.
 

“At Medjugorje, in the absence of the medical commission which had never been convened in a formal meeting, it was Fr. Bulat who conceived and executed, on his own initiative, the medieval test of prodding. On 2 June, wearing dark glasses, the priest entered the room of the apparitions a little before 6:00 p.m. Very few members of the commission had ever entered this room! He followed Vicka as she came in and took a seat right behind her. He carried a large needle in his left hand; this allowed him to make a quick sign of the cross with the visionaries as they began their prayers. He then switched the needle to his right hand, aimed it at Vicka’s left shoulder blade and stuck it in. Under sheer pressure of the action Vicka’s body moved somewhat to the right but she quickly and gracefully regained balance. Not a muscle in her face moved. She continued her conversation with Our Lady, unperturbed. Fr. Bulat has a second go. This time the pressure was perhaps a little less or was delivered from a better angle. To an observer placed in front the impact was less. Her face showed no reaction.


When we questioned Fr. Bulat he said that he had noted some muscular movement in the neck, at least during the course of the second prod. But he was placed behind Vicka and too much on the vertical to be able to notice. It would appear that any movement was simply Vicka’s effort to regain her balance after the pressure of the needle.

After the apparition, when Vicka got up to leave, a small blood stain, a little over a centimeter in diameter, was seen to mark the spot where the needle had penetrated. A video made by an amateur gives evidence of the stain.

The prod was deep. In that region of her body it would normally have provoked pain. Vicka should have cried out, observed Professor Joyeux when he saw the tape. As far as he is concerned, this ancient and brutal medieval test is of little significance. On the other hand, we do not regret that it has been carried out for, in a certain sense, it shows one of the properties of ecstasy in the visionaries of Medjugorje, just as was the case at Lourdes with Bernadette. It manifests a certain cultural continuity in these matters.”36

Name: Dr. Henri Joyeux and his team of Doctors from France

Place & Date of Testing: Medjugorje, March 24-25, 1984, June 9-10, 1984, October 6-7, 1984, December 28-29, 1984

Dr. Rene Joyeux

It is Professor Joyeux’s testimony that his tests:

“…are based on sound medical judgment and on common sense. In the last analysis it is not necessary to be a doctor in order to be aware that these young people are normal and healthy in mind, soul and body.”


Five doctors, headed by Professor Henri Joyeux, and an electrical engineer studied the visionaries in ecstasy on the days listed above. They worked as a team in the most important and comprehensive study of the visionaries. A friend of Professor Joyeux gave him a book entitled Is the Virgin Mary Appearing at Medjugorje by Fr. René Laurentin, and asked his opinion of the phenomena. Prof. Joyeux was highly skeptic of the testimony of the visionaries. However, when Fr. Laurentin asked him to collaborate with him in doing a thorough scientific investigation, Prof. Joyeux accepted the invitation. According to Fr. Laurentin,
 

“All the members of the team are graduates of the faculty of medicine of the University of Montpellier and live in the city or its suburbs. All practice medicine either in public hospitals or privately.”37


Following is a description of those who made up the team.

Dr. Henri Joyeux, was team coordinator and Professor of Cancerology in the Faculty of Medicine at Montpellier. He was a hospital surgeon in the Cancer Institute of Montpellier and director of a laboratory which researches nutrition and is involved in experimental cancerology.

Dr. Jacques Philippot, former hospital intern, has a diploma in ophthalmology and is consultant to hospitals in Montpellier. He undertook the study of the ocular and visual functions.

Dr. Francios Rouquerol
, has a diploma in otorhinolaryngology (ear, nose and throat); he is a former head of clinic at the faculty and expert law-court witness and was responsible for the study of the functions of hearing and voice.

Dr. Bernard Hoarau
, Assistant clinic head in the cardiology department of the University Hospital. He interpreted the recordings of the electro-cardiagram, blood pressure and heart rhythm.

Dr. Jean Cadhilhac, has been a member of the Yugoslav Society of Neurophysiology since 1970. He was consultant and interpreter of all the neurophysiological aspects and studied the different video recordings of the ecstasies at Medjugorje.

Rene Dubois-Chabert, an electrical engineer. He was responsible for the technical operation of the tests.38

Test or Procedure: The French medical team’s program aimed at studying the visionaries of Medjugorje from both a clinical and para-clinical stand point; para-clinical pertains to abnormalities or pathologies. This study would include before, during and after the apparition. They would be looking for differences in the functioning of the brain, vision, hearing, voice and, in particular, the cardiac functions, such as the heart rate and blood pressure.

medical studies of visionaries

Dr. Joyeux and his team from Montpellier Hospital in France made the long journey to Medjugorje, with the latest technology, in order to test not only the Medjugorje visionaries, but to look at the ecstatic state as never before. It was an exciting opportunity, but one in which there was a sense of urgency as there was no guarantee that the apparitions would continue from day to day. Here the doctors set up their instruments in the rectory of St. James Church where the visionaries would come for the apparition.


Professor Henri Joyeux’s first impressions after meeting and speaking with the visionaries are worth noting:
 

“Vicka, Ivan, Marija and Jakov are like any other youngsters of their age. We saw no signs of hallucination, pretence or invention. They were calm, serene and deeply serious and did not play at being celebrities. They remained normal in all the circumstances in which we observed them. They did not collude with each other, either before, during or after the essential event of their day, and they all returned home to their families.

“These young Yugoslavs are easy to communicate with…they allow themselves to be photographed or filmed but they do not seek this out; rather, they appeared to be somewhat annoyed by all the fuss that surrounded them. They are country youngsters who do not appear to need either a psychologist or a psychiatrist. They dress in the normal fashion of other young people of their country. They give no impression of being bigoted, each seeming to have his or her own personality; we felt at ease with all of them: they are neither geniuses nor simpletons; they are not being manipulated but remain free and healthy in mind and body.”39


Dr. Joyeux gave a short description of all five visionaries still receiving daily apparitions in 1984.
 

“Jakov Colo, aged 13…as impulsive, roguish an wild as any youngster of his age.

Ivan Dragicevic, aged 19…a very reserved, almost solitary, young man; he likes sports—some of the team played soccer with him; he answers questions precisely, appears to reflect a good deal and tends towards introspection. He refused very firmly to answer a precise question about his future: it is his private life and nobody else’s business.

Marija Pavlovic, aged 19, is a calm young girl, open and smiling. She is discreet and keeps to the background but is at the same time positive and reassuring in dealing with questioners. One feels that she has enormous inner reserves…

Ivanka Ivankovic, aged 18, has regular features and the assured walk and deportment of a student closely in touch with her times; she is accessible, sympathetic and open, but does not lack strength of character.

Vicka Ivankovic, aged 20, is the most open and smiling of the group. Her angular features, piercing gaze, and strong voice, all combine to give her a particular character; she is extrovert, her approach is simple and direct, and she is incapable of hiding her feelings.”40

The Electro-Encephalogram was administered to Ivan on June 10, to Marija on October 6, and Ivanka, October 7 all in the year 1984, in Medjugorje. The purpose of this test is to trace the rhythms of brain activity with eight diagrams that are attached to eight electrodes that are attached to eight different points on the skull. Wakefulness is illustrated by alpha waves on the diagrams, and the state of sleep or of dream by beta waves. The test lasted about 30 minutes for each of the visionaries, including before, during and after the apparition. Not at any time did Ivan demonstrate the state of sleep or dream. He remained in the alpha rhythm throughout the entire test.
 

Marija Vicka and Ivanka visionaries

Marija patiently suffers through the multiple attachments that will test her brain waves during the apparition. During ecstasy, Marija never left the alpha stage, which is the condition found in a contemplative and calm prayer. If one could have told 20-year-old Marija that 20 years from this moment she would be asked to submit to this same test during her ongoing apparitions of the Virgin Mary, she no doubt would have looked with stunned disbelief, not because of being tested again, but because of Our Lady continuing to appear to her in the apparitions all those years.

“This is the rhythm of wakefulness and receptivity, the rhythm of the contemplative in calm prayer.”41

 

When the tests were given in October to Ivanka and Marija, beta waves were apparent before the apparition began, especially with Marija, but from the beginning of the apparition, the alpha state was observed, progressively increasing throughout the time the visionaries were ecstasy. Although this was only one test, it was an important one because it eliminated false hypotheses which would have led them down many dead-end roads. The results from the electro-encephalogram eliminated the possibility of the visionaries being epileptic, hallucinating, or were asleep or dreaming. With all three visionaries, there were no signs of cerebral abnormalities nor any pathological symptoms.42


The Electrocardiogram
was administered to Vicka on October 6, and to Ivan and Marija on October 7, 1984. This machine recorded the heartbeat and blood pressure of each of the Medjugorje visionaries before and during the apparition. In each case, the heartbeat remained regular throughout.
 

• With Vicka, her heartbeat increased during the apparition, going from 105 beats a minute before the ecstasy to 135-140 while the apparition was occurring.

• With Marija, her heartbeat slowed down slightly, going from 105 beats a minute before the ecstasy to 95 during and back to 110 after.

• With Ivan, his heartbeat increased during the apparition, but not as much as Vicka’s. He went from 97-111 beats a minute before the ecstasy to 120-131 during the apparition, and went to 120 after the apparition had ended.43


Eye Tests: Intermittent light stimulation eliminated any concern of epilepsy before, during or after the ecstasy. Frequent eye movements were noticeable before and after the apparition, but there was not movement of the eyeball during ecstasy. Four of visionaries had an examination of the inner eye, all came out normal, being identical before and after the apparition. The contraction of the pupil in the presence of light was normal. There were no changes before, during or after the apparition.

However, there was a departure from normal behavior on some of the eye tests during ecstasy. When in the presence of extremely strong light that would normally cause blinking, the reflex of blinking was absent in Marija and Ivanka when tested on October 7, 1984. Also, when a screen was placed between the Medjugorje visionaries and the apparition, it apparently did not interfere with what they were seeing. As Fr. Laurentin writes,

Marija & Ivan visionaries

As with many of the tests, the scientists used different mechanisms to simulate conditions to test the reaction of various senses of the visionaries, such as hearing, sight, and touch. With the eye test, a bright light was flashed in their eyes during ecstasy, but they did not blink or wince or show any other reaction. Also, using an electro-oculogram, all the eyes of the visionaries moved in perfect timing with each other at the beginning and end of ecstasy.

“We concluded that visual perception of the surrounding world seems to disappear during the ecstasy. The visionaries’ eyes remain open but seem less sensitive to light; the pupil does contract in the presence of light but there is no blinking reflex.”44


“Touch Test”: This was a planned test that did not get executed because according to the visionaries, Our Lady of Medjugorje refused to participate in the test. Because the visionaries had testified that they could touch the Virgin in the apparition, the scientists discussed ways in which they could provide evidence of this, at least in being able to observe it from the side of those watching the apparition. They asked one of the visionaries to give one or both of their hands to the apparition. Using photographs, they could judge the position of the hands. Other tests could have judged if there were changes in the central nervous system. Visionary Jakov was asked to do this on June 10, 1984. After the apparition had ended, he stood up and seemed somewhat bewildered. He said,

“I had forgotten. And at the very time I was going to ask her the question, she disappeared.”45


When Ivanka and Marija were asked on October 7 to complete this same task, they said after the apparition that Our Lady would not agree to do it.46

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Having studied the results of the tests from March, June and October, the doctors decided to continue with new tests, and scheduled to return to Medjugorje December 28-29, 1984. They determined to look more intently at the vision, hearing and larynx function of the visionaries.


Study of Vision by Dr. Phillippott Using an Electro-Oculogram:When tests administered earlier in the year in Medjugorje showed that the eye movement of the visionaries stopped during apparition, the doctors wanted to do testing on the synchronizations of the visionaries eye movements at the moment and during the apparition. Ivan and Marija participated in this test. An electro-oculogram records eye movements. They discovered the following:

• At the beginning of the ecstasy eye movements stopped almost simultaneously.

• During the ecstasy only muscular movement associated with speech was in evidence; the eyes remained immobile

• At the end of the ecstasy eye movement reappeared again with almost perfect simultaneity. Thus, the phenomenon of simultaneity is associated both with the ending of the eye movement and with its restarting.47


Study of Ivan’s Hearing Function by Dr. F. Rouquerol, December 29, 1984 in Medjugorje:
A simple test was used to judge Ivan’s reaction to a loud sound before and during the apparition. When a noise of 70 decibels was suddenly heard, Ivan reacted immediately by jumping. This demonstrated that Ivan’s auditory pathways were functioning normally. The auditory nerve transmits sound stimuli to the upper part of the brain, which sends impulses to the body that reacts by jumping. However, during ecstasy, when a louder noise was used, at 90 decibels, which is comparable to the noise of a combustion engine at high revolution, Ivan did not react at all. After the apparition had ended, they asked if he had heard the noise. He said he had heard nothing. This resulted in the conclusion that during ecstasy, the noise did not reach the brain’s cortex.48

Study of Ivanka’s Voice and Larynx Function by Dr. F. Rouquerol, December 28, 1984:
In an attempt to find out why and how the visionaries’ voices became inaudible from the moment ecstasy began, Dr. Rouquerol investigated Ivanka’s voice and larynx. He found that:
 

• During the recitation of the Rosary before the apparitions began, the needle indicating that the larynx muscles were working moved up and down the scale.

• When ecstasy began and the voice became inaudible, the needle stopped and the larynx no longer moved. The lips continued to move, as the visionary spoke to the apparition; but no sound was registered on the equipment.

• When the voice returned to normal on the third word of the Our Father, the needle moved again; and ceased when the voice disappeared again.

• As soon as the apparition had gone and the visionary began to speak normally, the movements of the larynx returned.49


What they concluded was that at the time the visionaries voices disappeared in the apparition, this was connected to the fact that there was no movement taking place of the larynx. Though the lip movement remained normal, the act of breathing out, which normally would cause the vocal cords to vibrate, did not produce this normal result. Hence, no sound came from the visionaries. This was surprising to them to discover, because they hear themselves and each other just as normally whether they are in or out of ecstasy.

In conclusion, the clinical studies made during the entire series of visits persuaded Professor Joyeux’s team that:

• There were no signs of individual or collective hallucination—such as is normally encountered in drug addicts, among users of hallucinogens.

• There were no signs of individual or collective hysteria, usually characterized by “debility, suggestibility, inconstancy, theatricality, emotional immaturity and childish egocentricity.”50 None of these indications were observed in the Medjugorje visionaries

• There was no sign of neurosis. “The visionaries have no symptoms of anxiety or obsessional, phobic or hysterical neurosis, hypochondriac/or psychosomatic neurosis, and there is no indication of any psychosis.”51

• There was no sign of catalepsy— “This phenomenon has not been observed in the visionaries who quite naturally drop to their knees together when, as they say, they see Our Lady. They remained quite naturally in the kneeling position while the medical team was carrying out their tests; rather than freezing, the muscles governing gesticulation remain relaxed. The visionaries move spontaneously and without the slightest difficulty right from the end of the ecstasy. During the ecstasy they are not in a state of catalepsy, but in one of prayerful and peaceful contemplation.”52

• There was no sign of a pathological ecstasy, such as is frequently observed in pathological mystics, hysterics, the chronically delirious and those suffering from hallucinations. In a pathological ecstasy the “ecstasy alternates with excesses of exaltation and lewd excitability although the subjects remain useless in the face of practical activity”. None of these signs was present in the visionaries of Medjugorje. “The daily ecstasy does not excite them, does not constrain them, does not make them ill and does not give them a false sense of their importance.” 53

Ivan & Marija

Earphones were placed on Ivan’s head and a sound of 70 decibels was played in his ears. The sound was loud enough to make him jump. And yet, just a few minutes later, the sound was increased to 90 decibels, which is equivalent to a small explosion, but it elicited no reaction from Ivan. How could that be possible? The first sound sent through the earphones took place just moments before the apparition. The second sound took place while Ivan was in ecstasy. Once the apparition ended, he was asked if he heard the noise. He said he had heard nothing. Seeing that play out had to be pretty impressive to the doctors doing the test. It was just one piece of evidence, out of many that formed the opinion of countless doctors that something supernatural was taking place.


It is Professor Joyeux’s testimony that his tests

“are based on sound medical judgment and on common sense. In the last analysis it is not necessary to be a doctor in order to be aware that these young people are normal and healthy in mind, soul and body.” 54


Professor Joyeux’s report concluded:
 

“…the phenomenon…is scientifically inexplicable…The visionaries of Medjugorje are not drop-outs or dreamers, nor are they tired or anxious; they are free and happy, at home in their country and in the modern world…The ecstasies are not pathological, nor is there any element of deceit. No scientific discipline seems able to describe these phenomena. We would be quite willing to define them as a state of active, intense prayer, partially disconnected from the outside world, a state of contemplation with a separate person whom they alone can see, hear and touch.” 55

 

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Almost on the heels of the testing accomplished by the French team in 1984, an Italian team of doctors arrived in Medjugorje and conducted their own series of tests, September 7-9, 1985. As the French team had been so thorough, there were some tests, such as the electro-encephalogram, that they did not repeat. However, there were several kinds of tests that were missing from the French battery, that they included. Their findings collaborated closely with the conclusions made by the French team.

Name: A team of Italian scientists, headed by Dr. Luigi Frigerio, arrived in Medjugorje to perform a thorough battery of important tests. Professor Margnelli, a Neuro-Physiologist specializing in the study of “ecstasy” was present, also Professor Santini, and Dr. Paolo Maestri

Italian team of scientists testing visionaries

An Italian team of doctors, under the direction of Dr. Frigerio, perform very detailed testing on the visionaries in 1985. Many similar, but also different tests from the French team, were included in their battery of tests. The findings collaborated strongly with the results from Professor Joyeux’s testing.


Place & Date of Testing:
Medjugorje, September 7-9, 1985

Procedures and Conclusions:

Through studying the behavior of the Medjugorje visionaries, and the advent of modern science, Prof. Margnelli discovered behaviors never before identified with those in an ecstatic state. He was compelled to add a new category in the definition of “ecstasy”.
 

“To Professor Margnelli, the visionaries of Medjugorje had opened up new horizons. Until this time, two extremes of ecstasy had been recognized. In the first of these, the subject showed a complete break with the world, exhibiting pathological symptoms, even sometimes catalepsy and rigidity. At the other extreme was the mystic, remaining partially earthbound while acting as an intermediary between the people present and the apparition. This was the role—one foot in both worlds—that the children had played in the first weeks.

“But they had undeniably matured since then, evolving into a state of consciousness—not at all morbid—in which all their attention was concentrated on the apparition, to the exclusion of everything else.” 56


The Medjugorje visionaries presented a completely new experience than anything he had ever seen before. Professor Margnelli was compelled to introduce a completely new category in the definition of “ecstasy” on their account:


“ecstatic who are partially and significantly disconnected from the exterior world, yet who are completely normal, relaxed, well-integrated and happy.”57



A Study of Sensitivity to Pain by Prof. Santini Using an Algometer:
an algometer is an electronic instrument used to measure the resistance to burns. The purpose in using it was to test the children’s sensitivity to pain. A heated silver disc was applied to three of the other visionaries before ecstasy. Their reaction time to the pain was normal, within three or four tenths of a second. However, they showed no reaction at all during ecstasy. The doctors were careful not to let the test last too long so as not to inflict a severe burn on the visionaries. The test, therefore, was limited to seven seconds. During that time, the visionaries appeared to be completely insensitive to pain. 58

A Study of the Visionaries’ Vision by Prof. Santini Using an Estesiometer: In this test, a nylon thread is extended on to the cornea of the eye with various amounts of pressure. This took place during ecstasy, but the Medjugorje visionaries had no reaction to it, not flinching or even blinking. The same reaction took place when a strong light, a 100-walt bulb, was shone full in their faces during the apparition. There was no sign that the visionaries even noticed. 59

Use of an Ampliphone by Dr. Paolo Maestri: Dr. Maetri used this device in order to test the visual and auditory nerve-impulses, tracing the passage of nerve-impulses from eye and ear as far as to the cortex of the brain where transmitted messages are interpreted.
 

“The result, they found, was like a telephone ringing in an empty house: ‘the visionaries consciousness was elsewhere, and did not reply.’” 60


Even though the nervous signals to the brain was the same as is normal, the visionaries did not see or hear anything going on around them while in ecstasy.

The Use of a Polygraph by Professor Margnelli: The polygraph is a sophisticated type of lie-detector. It is capable of revealing reactions that are normally hidden in anyone who may be lying. Earlier researches have proven that ecstasy causes heightened neuro-vegetative activity. Margnelli used the polygraph to study some of the physiological parameters of the vegetative nervous system of the Medjugorje youth: heartbeats; arterial pressure; electrical resistance of the skin; the flow of blood into the end-join of the fingers; and the rhythm of breathing.
 

He studied Jakov on 7th-8th September, Ivan on 9th September (1985), and his most important findings concerned the heartbeats and the flow of blood to the heart. Jakov’s were abnormally fast: 150 per minute, while the flow of blood to the middle finger of the left hand was one third of the normal rate: “This reduced flow induces pallor of the skin, dryness, lowered temperature…The lack of feeling in Jakov and the other young people is therefore total.

These tests showed variable results. During the French tests, Vicka’s heartbeat had been abnormally fast, whereas that of Marija and Ivanka had actually slowed down during ecstasy. In Marija’s case, the heartbeat never accelerated: it seemed that her concentration was complete. In the others, the acceleration was said to be linked to the conveying of secrets or messages. On one occasion, Jakov’s breathing appears to have stopped altogether for about ten seconds—when he was being given in the Medjugorje apparitions a serious message about the future of the world. 61

 

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The visionaries had undergone more than five years of intensive tests by a multitude of doctors from several countries who traveled to Medjugorje with a variety of different kinds of tests. Although testing would continue throughout the years, these tests by the French and Italian team of doctors in 1984 and 1985 would form the foundation of all other testing. On January 14, 1986, an international French-Italian scientific theological commission released a 12-point summary of the overall findings of the testing up to this point in time. There were 17 highly respected experts, that included scientists, doctors, psychiatrists and theologians, who worked together to make this declaration which was “the most competently and the most expertly” studied examination of the events revolving around the six visionaries. To read the 12-Point Summary, Click Here.

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Name: Fr. Andreas Resch and a team of 13 doctors and scientists planned a very in-depth battery of tests for the visionaries. It became known as the “Medjugorje 3” work group.62

Place & Date of Testing:
Italy, at the House of Christian Encounters in Capiago Intimiano (Como) which is operated by the Dehonian Fathers, April 22-23, 1998—Ivan, Marija and Vicka were the three examined

Medjugorje, July 23, 24, 1998—Visionaries Mirjana, Vicka, and Ivanka were examined

Jakov Colo was examined between these two dates

Italy, at the House of Christian Encounters, December 11, 1998—Visionary Marija was examined

The purpose of the study was to determine if the visionaries continued to daily experience the “ecstatic” state in the apparitions, as was determined in 1984-1985 by the French and Italian doctors, and whether there have been any significant changes in their experience. The testing was incomplete due to the fact that the Medjugorje visionaries were only partially committed to fulfilling all the demands of those in the working group either because of family or social obligations, or personal reluctance. Following are the doctors who made up the “Medjugorje 3” work group:


Fr. Andreas Resch, Professor of Theology at the Papal University Alfonsianum in Rome and psychologist from the Institute for the Field Limits of Science (IGW)—Innsbruck; Fr. Resch was the General Coordinator for the “Medjugorje 3” group of specialists

Dr. Giorgio Gagliardi, medical psychophysiologist from the Center for Study and Research on Psychophysiology of States of Consciousness—Milano; member of the professors’ board of the European School AMISI, Milan;

Dr. Marco Margnelli, medical psychophysiologist and neuro-physiologist from the Centre for Study and Research on States of Consciousness—Milano, member of the professors’ board of the European School AMISI, Milan

Dr. Mario Cigada, psychotherapist and oculist, Milano, member of the professorial board of the European School AMISI, Milan

Dr. Luigi Ravagnati, neurologist; assistant for neuro-surgery at the University of Milan, member of the professor’s board of the European School of Hypnotic Psychotherapy AMISI, Milan

Dr. Marianna Bolko, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, instructor for specialization in psychotherapy at the University of Bologna

Dr. Virginio Nava, psychiatrist; head doctor at Como Psychiatric Hospital

Dr. Rosanna Constantini, psychologist, instructor at Auxilium University, Rome

Dr. Fabio Alberghina, medical internist

Dr. Giovanni Li Rosi, gynaecologist at Varese Hospital and specialist for hypnotic psychotherapy, AMISI, Milan

Dr. Gaetano Perriconi, internist at FBF Hospital in Erbi/Como
Professor Massimo Pagani, medical internist, professor of internal medicine at the University of Milan

Dr. Gabriella Raffaelli, scientific secretary
Fiorella Gagliardi, secretary, community assistant

Conclusion: The results of the testing determined that the experience of the Medjugorje visionaries during can be compared to the 1985 study, although the intensity has somewhat diminished.

Name:
Professor Henri Joyeux and a team of experts from France

Date of Testing: June 25, 2005-June 24, 2006

The purpose of this newest series of testing was to compare the current results to the findings twenty years ago. Dr. Henri Joyeux was once more called upon to use his expertise and experience to this investigation. His team was not as large as in 1984, but adequate for the responsibility.
 

“Dr. Philippe Loron, a respected neurologist who works in the large Hospital Salpêtrière in Paris assisted me. He brought the most sophisticated devices for recording and researching. Two more men and two women came with us who had never been to Medjugorje before. They observed everything a new and in very serious way. One of them was a brain specialist and an expert in scanning the respiratory organs. We recorded and tested Marija and Ivan before, during and after the ecstasy.” 63


The conclusion was profound, though not surprising. Professor Joyeux remarked:
 

“After twenty years, our conclusion has not changed. We were not wrong. Our scientific conclusion is clear: the Medjugorje events must be taken seriously.” 64


These test results were sent to the Vatican and Pope Benedict XVI.

End Notes:

Scientific & Medical Studies on the Apparitions at Medjugorje
, Fr. René Laurentin & Dr. Henri Joyeux:
1-3, 6-9, 12, 17-38, 40-49,
Is the Virgin Mary Appearing at Medjugorje, Fr. René Laurentin & Ljudevit Rupčić
4, 5
Spark from Heaven, Mary Craig
10-11, 39, 50-61
Žarko Ivković, Medjugorje Tribune, January 2007, No. 1
13-16, 63-64
Medjugorje Testament, Fr. René Laurentin
62

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