Seeing the Light in Medjugorje:
A Story of Redemption

Businessman Rafael Saenz de Santa María de Pombo was a lost soul aimlessly drifting in the asphalt jungle of Bilbao when he unexpectedly rediscovered his faith.
Neguri, Spain: As a pastor of souls, nothing gives me more joy than to see my parishioners growing in faith every day. Spiritual growth is a challenge in this day and age when many Christians in Europe, including Catholic Spain, appear to be drifting towards secularism and embracing moral relativism. Given its tradition of rubbing elbows with Spain’s rich and famous, one would think that Neguri would fit right into this mold. As most everyone knows in the Bilbao metropolitan area, Neguri is an exclusive neighborhood of palatial homes built in the beginning of the last century by Spain’s wealthiest families. Those captains of industry are credited for establishing the town of Getxo, where Neguri is situated, as their winter playground. They were drawn to the area because it is near pristine beaches and enjoys good weather all-year round. Thankfully, the strong winds of secularism which is— rightly or wrongly— often associated with the libertine lifestyle of the jet set has not touched my parish where the faithful express their deep spirituality not only by attending Mass and other religious services regularly but also, and more importantly, by having real concern for one another. It is a spiritual oasis for old-timers, Filipino expatriates and lately for young people who have formed a prayer group at Iglesia del Carmen.
The statue of Our Lady of Medjugorje at the site where is said to have appeared before six local children.
Responsible for organizing the prayer group every first and third Thursdays of the month and also the monthly family Sunday Mass is Rafael Saenz de Santa María de Pombo, a 46-year-old family man and devotee of Our Lady of Medjugorje (Our Lady of Peace).  Santa María de Pombo is a Spanish title of nobility (marquisate in this case) granted in 1872 to a forebear of Rafael–Santander Sen. Juan Pombo Cornejo–by King  Amadeo I of Spain of the House of Savoy. Rafael’s life is now devoted to being an observant Catholic and good father and husband. But the path of righteousness was not always the road he had taken until a trip to Medjugorje completely changed the trajectory of his life.

It was in Medjugorje where the formerly lapsed Catholic underwent an intense spiritual experience and returned to his Catholic faith. In 1981, the Virgin Mary as Our Lady of Peace is said to have appeared before six local children in Mudjugorje, which now forms part of Bosnia and Herzegovina but was then under communist rule in the former Yugoslavia. After his conversion, he and his friends formed the group Salve, their vehicle for charitable works, and they have taken under their wings a Mexican gospel musician whose recording of religious songs they sponsor. Every year he goes with the Salve group on a religious pilgrimage to visit shrines abroad and Spain, including Garabandal.
It was in Medjugorje where the formerly lapsed Catholic underwent an intense spiritual experience and returned to his Catholic faith. In 1981, the Virgin Mary as Our Lady of Peace is said to have appeared before six local children in Mudjugorje, which now forms part of Bosnia and Herzegovina but was then under communist rule in the former Yugoslavia. After his conversion, he and his friends formed the group Salve, their vehicle for charitable works, and they have taken under their wings a Mexican gospel musician whose recording of religious songs they sponsor. Every year he goes with the Salve group on a religious pilgrimage to visit shrines abroad and Spain, including Garabandal.