Vatican City – After having brilliantly solved the yellow of the phony apparitions of Our Lady of Amsterdarm – a very controversial case that dragged on from the mid-1950s – the former apostolic nuncio to the Netherlands, Aldo Cavalli now he will have to move to Medjugorie on a permanent basis to complete the investigation and verification work left halfway by the papal envoy Henryk Hoser, the Polish archbishop sent by Pope Francis three years ago to the Bosnian sanctuary to put some order, until his death from Covid last August. Cavalli’s appointment as special apostolic visitor for the parish of Medjugorie – a sort of commissioner – was formalized on Saturday morning.
Nuncio Cavalli born in Lecce in 1946 but ordained a priest in Bergamo in 1971 has worked in various nunciatures: Chile, Colombia, Malta and Libya, and since 2015 in the Netherlands and as a representative of the Holy See at the Organization for the Prohibition of Arms chemicals (OPCW).
His appointment is considered relevant because he will have to complete the process of normalization of the sanctuary in which Our Lady still continues to appear to the visionaries at fixed times, continuously since 1981. Pope Francis in the first years of his pontificate made some sarcastic comments on that “Madonna postina” who continued to send heavenly messages announcing his appearance at the appointed time and day. A theological analysis had already begun on Medjugorie by a restricted commission, chaired by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, under the pontificate of Benedict XVI. Those studies claimed that the very first apparitions could be considered substantially inexplicable and attributable to a phenomenon of a supernatural nature. Thus implying that all the other apparitions, including the last ones, were either dubious or the result of some sort of scam.
A rather complex context must be inserted into this picture. Since the 1980s, Medjugorje has become destination of millions of pilgrimages to the world, fueling a chain of conversions. At the same time the area where the town stands has developed and grown. Today it is a vital center, full of hotels, real estate businesses, restaurants, hostels, churches, monasteries that have sprung up around the great sanctuary where repetitive masses, confirmations, confessions and communions are celebrated. The latter exceeded (before Covid) the figure of two million a year, which speaks volumes about the importance of Medjugorje for the life of the Church.
Nuncio Cavalli will also have to settle the mess related to bad relations between the friars who physically manage the sanctuary and the local bishop. Relations have always been tense because the successive bishops have always been very critical of the progress of the somewhat anarchic management of the sanctuary.
But Cavalli, having managed to unravel the skein of Our Lady of Amsterdam, will do the same in Medjugorje. The story in the Netherlands was resolved brilliantly with a communiqué issued by the diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam in 2020 in which it was stated clearly that the apparitions were not real and that the accompanying messages of the self-styled seer Ida Peerdeman received between 1945 and 1959 were the fruit of fantasies. With all due respect to the previous bishops, including Marianus Punt, who attested to the historical and supernatural significance of the Lady of All Nations of Amsterdam capable, he wrote, of helping “in the drama of our time, to find the right way, the way towards a new and particular coming of the Holy Spirit “.
It all originated when the pseudo seer, Isje (Ida) Johanna Peerdeman had claimed to have had her first encounter with Our Lady at the age of 12 on 13 October 1917, the same day as the last apparition of Fatima in which verified the Miracle of the Sun. On March 25, 1945, he said he had celestial messages. The 600th anniversary of the so-called Eucharistic Miracle of Amsterdam was also celebrated in that year. Ida who was 40 then reported seeing a light in a corner of the room and the Madonna telling her to say the rosary. Later Ida said that she could ask the Madonna about the fate of the soldiers at the front. A friar wanted Ida to write all this and introduce the cause in the diocese. Meanwhile the rumor was spreading. Ida became the center of attention of local Catholics until 1959 when Ida said she could no longer see anything.
Nuncio Cavalli put an end to this bizarre phenomenon, on the verge of popular credulity. Meanwhile he is packing his suitcase and gathering information for the work that awaits him in Medjugorje. But more than the amount of trouble on the table, perhaps he fears the high rate of contagion from Covid which also cost the life of the commissioner who preceded him.