WORLD-OBITS-L ArchivesArchiver > WORLD-OBITS > 2007-10 > 1193327240
From: "Peter McCrae" <>
Subject: [WORLD-OBITS] BARBARIC: Slavko Barbaric
Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2007 16:47:20 +0100
The Rev Slavko Barbaric
Last Updated: 10:28pm BST 23/08/2001
THE REVEREND SLAVKO BARBARIC, who has died aged 54, acted as spiritual
director to six young people who said that they had seen visions of the
Virgin Mary at Medjugorje in Bosnia.
The events at the town of Medjugorje have attracted controversy for more
than 20 years. The six visionaries claim to have seen hundreds of
apparitions of Mary since June 1981. For three of the visionaries these
apparitions continue every day; the other three now see apparitions less
often. Wherever they are in the world, they talk with Mary and receive a
"message of peace".
The message that they pass on is for people to pray, to fast, to foster a
devotion to the Eucharist and to reading the Scriptures. In 1981 the
visionaries were mostly in their mid-teens, with the youngest 10. Now five
of them are married, one lives in Massachusetts and two in Italy, but all
return to Medjugorje often.
Barbaric, a Franciscan, became involved in the events at Medjugorje in 1983,
when Bishop Zanic of Mostar, the local diocese, wanted to discover if the
visions were authentic. He asked Barbaric, a trained psychotherapist, to
investigate. After many interviews with the visionaries and lengthy
investigations, Barbaric came to believe in the visions himself. Although he
said he could not be certain of their authenticity, he stressed that there
were many positive signs of faith in Medjugorje.
In 1984 Barbaric was appointed to the parish of St James in Medjugorje, and
his life became completely tied up in ministering to the thousands of
pilgrims who visit the town. He would often rise at four in the morning to
pray for two hours on the so-called Hill of Apparitions, or on the 1,700ft
Hill of the Cross. After taking part in the parish Mass at 7am, he would
spend the day giving talks to pilgrims, hearing Confessions, leading the
prayers of the people, often climbing again with pilgrims one of the two
In the evening, he would join with other priests in saying Mass. He would
lead the prayers in song and word in seven languages often for an hour or
more. Barbaric would explain that the Virgin Mary had not appeared to
announce catastrophes but to show us how to avoid them.
Over the years he met tens of thousands of pilgrims and treated them all
equally, greeting them with directness, simplicity and a sense of humour.
Once he had become convinced of the value of the message of Medjugorje,
Barbaric travelled widely to spread it. He visited Britain frequently, in
particular the pilgrim centres of Aylesford in Kent and Walsingham in
Norfolk. When not travelling, he wrote a series of spiritual books, mostly
on the value of praying with the heart as well as the head. They sold
millions of copies. He also wrote regular commentaries on the Medjugorje
Barbaric set up a home for orphans and other deprived children in
Medjugorje. There too, he supported a rehabilitation centre for drug
addicts, where his background as a psychotherapist proved useful.
Medjugorje escaped direct fighting, but as war swept over the former
Yugoslavia, Barbaric did what he could to help refugees. He founded Mother's
Village for the care and education of war orphans, elderly people left on
their own, and sick children.
Critics of Barbaric sometimes accused him of being a Croatian nationalist.
It is true that he loved his country, but he had respect for the right of
individuals to follow their conscience. Having spent years under Tito's
Communist government he was able to appreciate the value of the freedom to
Support for the visionaries of Medjugorje and the activity of pilgrims were
opposed by successive bishops of the diocese of Mostar. Both Bishop Zanic,
who died this year, and the current bishop, the Rt Rev Ratko Peric,
identified Barbaric as the priest responsible for spreading the Medjugorje
For Barbaric this was a dilemma that caused him much anguish: he wished to
obey the bishop, but felt a duty to spread messages that he believed came
from the Virgin Mary.
Slavko Barbaric was born on March 11 1946 at Dragicina, Bosnia, and spent
his childhood in extreme poverty. After going to high school in Dubrovnik,
he entered the Franciscan Order at Humac in 1965, taking his final vows as a
Franciscan and being ordained a priest in 1971. He studied at Sarajevo, Graz
and Freiburg, gaining a master's degree and then a doctorate, and qualifying
as a psychotherapist.
On the last day of his life Barbaric led about 70 parishioners up the rough
stone path of the Hill of the Cross. On his return from the top he prayed
aloud, asking for the intercession of the Virgin Mary for a happy death. He
turned and blessed the crowd with him, and a few seconds later, stumbled and
lay down on the rock. He was found to be dead.
Two days later 30,000 people attended his funeral, and Bishop Peric, who had
had such trouble with him during his life, presided at his funeral Mass.
|[WORLD-OBITS] BARBARIC: Slavko Barbaric by "Peter McCrae" <>|