On a summer’s day in 1981, two teenagers in a Bosnian village reported seeing an apparition of the Virgin Mary, dressed in startling white and carrying a child. The following day, four other young people in the village claimed to have seen a similar vision. Before long the six visionaries were reporting daily apparitions of Our Lady.

The village of Medjugorje has since become famous, and controversial, in the Catholic world, drawing in pilgrims from across the globe with reports of conversions and miracles.

Sceptics, both within and outside the Church, continue cast doubt on the visions, however, leading to passionate disagreements and angry exchanges. Indeed, the issue is now fast turning into one of the most divisive in the Catholic Church, with supporters claiming life-changing experiences, while critics brand it a hoax and accuse those involved of exploiting the visions for financial gain.

In 2010, Benedict XVI established a commission to look into the apparitions, chaired by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the former vicar of Rome. It was charged with “collecting and examining all the material” surrounding the apparitions and presenting a “detailed report”, followed by a vote on the supernatural nature of the apparitions.

The report has yet to be published and remains under pontifical secret. But last week the Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli appeared to reveal its contents.

The findings, if true, will only add to the controversy. The commission came out with 13 votes in favour of recognising the first seven visions as supernatural in nature, with just one vote against. (There was also one “suspensive” vote, which is a voter’s way of indicating they will make up their mind later.)

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