In Jubilee Holy Year of 1900th Anniversary of the Death on the Cross of our Saviour Jesus, that began in April 1933 and ended in April 1934, parishioners of Medjugorje parish, together with their parish priest Fr. Bernardin Smoljan, decided to do something that Holy Father Pius XI and local bishop Fr. Alojzije Mišić were advising them to do. It did not take them a lot to decide, and one evening, at the meeting of the parishioners held on January 21, 1934, they decided the following: We shall build the cross on the hill Šipovac, from that hill there is an open view to all parts of Herzegovina. We shall build the cross on the top to which there are no paths leading to, while those used by Illyrians two thousand years ago, at the time when our Saviour walked on this earth, are no longer used, perhaps only by few shepherds minding the lambs that wonder away…
Construction of the cross in the extremely difficult economical circumstances
It was not easy to undertake such a big task. Not just because there were no trails on the hill, it was steep and dangerous, but there were more serious circumstances involved. Let us recall: it was in that time that the whole world was going through major economical crisis, but surely those areas that were poor before it, had even more difficult time during that. Tobacco, the only product that could earn few pennies for them, was not paid enough, there were hardly any employed people and homes were full of children and it was very difficult to feed them all. Besides all that, young people undertook this job seriously and began to clear the trails to the top, to take bags of cement, sand, iron, woods and all other equipment necessary for such a major project. The parish priest wrote their names in the construction diary they kept, as well as the names of all men who contributed financially this project, but also names of the parish priests from the area who helped in this project. Self-taught mason Ante Dugandžić Redžo was building the cross, young men prepared the cement and there were records how one young woman, Jela Vasilj, took a bag of cement on her bag all the way to the top and no one knows anymore, as all of the witnesses died long ago, how many women took water for the cement and food and drinks to the workers in their hands all the way to the top. Construction was not obstructed even with the weather circumstances, often and heavy rain in the February, strong wind or the poverty. Construction began on February 12, and everything was finished on March 10. The Cross was blessed and the first Holy Mass was celebrated on March 16. The night before, all of the parish and people in Brotnjo and even distant villages were able to see amazing scene: a huge fire in the shape of the cross was lightning each heart. It was on the grounds and on rocks along the hill, that a huge sign was made, a cross of ashes and fire that burnt the whole night.
Blessing of the Cross and the first Holy Mass held on the top
Procession from the church to Cross Mountain, as that was when the name of the hill was changed, was held by the Fraternity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus whose mission was prayer against slandering and cursing. All people, young and old, priests and parishioners of other parishes were there too. It would be good, now when we mention this Fraternity, that we take their path now: To pray again against slandering and cursing, for purity of our hearts and tongues, as it is hard to understand the messages of Our Lady when there are so many ugly words on our lips and so much slandering and curses! Isn’t the speech, a beautiful gift of God, something given to men to praise God and not to curse Him! The fire in the shape of the cross, lit on Cross Mountain, never stopped burning in the hearts of the parishioners, not even in the difficult years of the war that followed, not in the years of the communism regime who wanted to pull the cross out of the hearts of all those faithful. It was in the first years after the World War II, that they even forbid Holy Mass to be held on the first Sunday after the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, something that was held since 1934. This Cross became a place where many were coming to pray, to seek for protection and intercession from God, particularly women who prayed for their children and husbands who were in the war and all over the world. Sometimes, throughout the whole Lent and especially on Good Friday, women used to go around the cross on their bare knees.
Place of prayer of parishioners and pilgrims
Place of prayer and many votive pilgrimages of parishioners, suddenly becomes a place of prayer of the pilgrims from all over the world. It was in 1981, that there were more than 50 000 pilgrims, from the parish and from the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Europe as well as other over-seas countries. Everyone was rushing to go to the top and many were praying the Way of the Cross on that rugged, steep, pathway. That is when parishioners expressed their hospitality and love to their guests: they offered water and wine to those who were thirsty, bread to those who were hungry, fruits and simple treats as if they were their own family
Dear children! The cross was also in God’s plan when you built it. These days, especially, go on mountain and pray before the cross. I need your prayers. Thank you for having responded to my call!, Gospa said in the message of August 30, 1984.
Križevac, Cross Mountain is one of the three most important prayer places in Medjugorje, along with the church and Apparition Hill. Many experienced their conversions and healings there and there are so many moving testimonies on being cured from addictions, illnesses, on forgiveness, beginning of a new life…How many pilgrims felt in their hearts urge to climb this mountain after good confession and Holy Mass, something they never did before!
Križevac is a place of prayer of parishioners and pilgrims: Holy Mass is celebrated there for 83 years and the Way of the Cross is prayed for 36 years. Young people from the whole world have their day too on this mountain, as for the last 28 years they take part in the Holy Mass celebrated on the top of Krizevac, on the Feast of Transfiguration of the Lord, celebrated on August 6, at 5 am! Dozens of thousands of those who stepped into a new life, return from Krizevac being transformed, strengthened and encouraged.
The words engraved in this cement cross are carried in the hearts of the millions of pilgrims, young and old, sick and healthy, those who visited this hill after the calling of the Queen of Peace for so many years now. Let us repeat those words now as we are preparing for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on Cross Moutain:
TO JESUS CHRIST/
THE REDEEMER OF THE HUMAN KIND/
AS A SIGN OF OUR FAITH, LOVE
/ AND HOPE/
FR. BERNARDIN SMOLJAN/
AND PARISH OF MEDJUGORJE/
FROM EVERY EVIL DELIVER US ALL, JESUS! (Glasnik mira, 2006.)