On June 25, the parish of Medjugorje celebrated the feast of St. James, its patron saint.
Following tradition, the morning Eucharistic celebration which took place in the park near the parish church was preceded by a procession with the statue of St. James, and the singing of the litanies of All Saints. This year, the honour was given to those living in the areas of Medjugorje called Sivric, Kozine and Dodig.
Holy Mass was celebrated by Fr. Stanko Dodig, a native of Medjugorje, and concelebrated by Fr. Slavko Soldo the Herzegovinian Franciscan provincial, Fr. Ivan Sesar parish priest of Medjugorje, and about twenty local and foreign priests. In his homily, Fr. Stanko Dodig spoke about St. James, about his role among the Twelve, his activities in the first Church, his martyrdom, and how his example can be applied today. The majority of the faithful who assisted at the Mass were parishioners, joined by some pilgrims. After Mass, in procession and while singing the litanies of All Saints, the statue of St. James was brought back to the church.
The parish of Medjugorje was founded in 1892 and placed under the protection of St. James the apostle. The first parish church was constructed in 1897, and a new church was completed and blessed on January 19, 1969.
St. James the apostle, like his brother John, was the son of Zebedee, a fisherman on the Lake of Galilee, and a friend of Peter and Andrew. Together with them, James first joined the disciples of John the Baptist, and then became a disciple of Jesus and the one who was called to “catch men”. James, as one of the most intimate disciples of Jesus, with Peter and John was present at the resurrection of the daughter of Jairus, and at the Transfiguration of Jesus. He was among those who were with Jesus during his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. James was the first among the apostles to lay down his life for the Gospel, in 43/44 AD under the reign of king Herod Agrippa I.
Since the 9th century, St. James has been venerated in Europe. When Muslims occupied the Holy Land, pilgrims returning from Jerusalem brought his relics to the town of Compostella in Spain, which then became the principal gathering point for all pilgrims who wanted, but could not, visit the Tomb of Jesus. St. James was declared patron of pilgrims. He is presented as a pilgrim, with a baton in his hand, a gourd to keep water, and a shell to drink.