"Millions travel to Medjugorje each year but, says Simon Caldwell, the world-famous pilgrimage site may soon be exposed as a fraud
The Medjugorje story begins early in 1976 when a Franciscan monk in the former Yugoslavia, Father Tomislav Vlasic, starts an affair with a nun who becomes pregnant. Frightened he will be exposed as the child's father, Father Vlasic persuades her to move away to Germany. She hopes he will honour his promise to leave the ministry and marry her. She writes a sequence of increasingly anxious letters when this does not happen, telling her former lover she is so miserable that she is praying she will die in childbirth. But he piously orders her to ‘be like Mary' and accept her destiny in a foreign land - and never to tell a soul who the father really is.
Unfortunately for him, some of his letters fall into the hands of the woman's landlord who, scandalised, copies them and sends them to a friend in the Vatican.
Six years later Father Vlasic is ‘spiritual leader' of six children who say the Virgin Mary appears to them daily in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina. But the local bishop is having none of it. The priest writes to Pope John Paul II to say that Satan is working through the bishop and to request direct intervention against him. But, worse luck, the Vatican official with copies of his love letters takes an interest in the case and sends them to the bishop in question.
Disgraced, the priest then heads for Italy where, with a new mistress, he sets up a mixed-sex religious community devoted to the apparitions and continues to party like a bad dog for the next 17 years until the Vatican official who ruined everything for him becomes Pope Benedict XVI. "