On October 16, 2010, a party of 46 pilgrims from Switzerland gathered to board a bus to Medjugorje. Among the travellers was a blind woman Joëlle and her 12-year-old daughter Vinciane. They were accompanied by Claudia, a family friend.
The journey to Medjugorje did not go well. It took two days for the group to arrive at a border crossing into Bosnia Herzegovina only to discover that the Swiss bus did not have the correct documents to travel into the country. The bus and the group moved on and tried another border crossing, but was met with the same decision by officials. The bus was not allowed to drive into Bosnia Herzegovina.
Fortunately, at the second crossing it was noticed that there was a local bus service operating a route to Medjugorje. So the party unloaded its luggage from the Swiss bus and waited at the stand for the next bus to arrive that would take them to Medjugorje. They finally reached the village that evening at 8.00pm.
The next day the group climbed Apparition Hill, including the blind woman Joëlle. It wasn’t an easy climb in the rain, but there was a great spirit of solidarity. Later in the evening, the group gathered again and attended the evening prayer programme at St James’ church. Joëlle became strangely unsettled after receiving the Eucharist at Mass but was put at ease by the pastor accompanying the Swiss group.
The following day, most of the group climbed Mt Krizevac, but for Joëlle and a few others, including the pastor, they prayed instead at the Way of the Cross that surrounds the statue of the Risen Christ. The main group on Krizevac prayed earnestly for the needs of Joëlle, and in the hope that she might recover her sight. Six hours later they came off the mountain in time to attend evening Mass at St James.
It was during this Mass that something remarkable happened. At the distribution of the Eucharist Joëlle raised her head and saw in front of her a priest wearing a white alb. She looked up and was able to see the lights in the church, its high ceiling and windows. The shock to Joëlle was so great that she started to feel unwell again and asked her friend to take her outside. When Joëlle made her exit she turned to Claudia and said, “I see the light!”
They continued walking around the outside of the church towards the sacristy area and met with Fr Oliver, a priest who had also traveled with the group to Medjugorje. When he was told what had happened he was deeply moved and immediately returned inside the church to pray the Glorious Mystery of the Rosary as is customary after the evening Mass in Medjugorje.
By then others had started to gather around Joëlle and Claudia, Fr Oliver returned and then suggested they all go back inside the church in thanksgiving. The group knelt at the foot of the steps to the altar to give thanks and praise for Joëlle’s wonderful healing, and were reminded of the Gospel passage when 10 lepers were healed but only one returned to give thanks.
Then the group moved on to the statue of Our Lady and continued praying before finally returning to their hostel.
Afterwards some pilgrims told how they were placed behind Joëlle when she received communion, and how they had experienced such a strong smell of roses at the time.
Fr Oliver had run ahead of the group back to the hostel and had invited everyone to come together in the main room because he had some good news to share. When Joëlle and Claudia eventually arrived back, the whole group was waiting for them.
Now throughout this healing experience, Joëlle’s daughter Vinciane had not been with her, but when her mother returned to the hostel Vinciane was waiting with the rest of the group, not knowing what had happened.
Joëlle then said to her daughter, “Vinciane, you have washed you hair?” Her daughter responded, “Yes, yes, but why have we been asked to gather in this room?” Her mother asked another question: “You see nothing strange about me?” “No” answered Vinciane. “Then look again!” said her mother.
“You can see!” exclaimed her astonished daughter. The two clasped and hugged each other in joy for five minutes. One can only imagine the emotion felt by mother and daughter and all around them at that time. And the praise and thanksgiving continued until the group decided to visit and pray at the Blue Cross, the place of so many of Our Lady’s apparitions.
Joëlle later gave more details about her healing. She said that it was on the first night after Mass that she was able to distinguish light, see people’s faces and their lips move. During the following days her vision gradually improved. She is now able to see her two brothers and parents after 42 years of being blind. She said it was her parents who taught her to love Jesus and Mary and she has never stopped praying to them. She said she is also grateful for the gift of Vinciane, her “torch”, as she describes her daughter.
After she regained her sight Joëlle was faced with many difficulties adjusting to her new world, especially at the sight of so many tall buildings and seeing so many people. This would often produce an adverse reaction in her and she would feel sick. But Joëlle said that with the grace of Jesus and Mary she will overcome the problems and challenges that her healing has brought. Now she can distinguish colours, houses, trees and vegetation, cars, people, the sun, and her cat! And although she is still under the care of an ophthalmologist, Joëlle said that she has firm faith that Jesus will complete the work he has started. Her daughter is now able to have her own room in their apartment and has said to her mother, “Peace lives in our apartment!”
A final word from Joëlle: “This healing has given me the body of an adult, but left me with the heart of a child..”
Additional information by me: I arrived in Medjugorje on Nov 3, 2010, just after this miracle. Slavenka our tour guide was telling us about this miracle. She said that just after the miracle the church, St. James, took them to the office and documented everything. She was then instructed to receive medical documentation when they returned home. St. James was taking all the right steps to assure this miracle did happen before they made the announcement of this truly beautiful miracle. Another side of the story is, Claudia was not going to stay at church but she felt drawn to stay with Joelle. Our Lady was guiding Claudia and she listened. Truly and an amazing story.
Peace and Love