Interview: Felicia of Abensperg and Traun
Felicia, Countess of Abensperg and Traun, has been repeatedly coming to Medjugorje for about 20 years now. As a Christian and a mother of a large family, as well as a citizen of the world, she is involved in many religious and humanitarian activities.
In May 2004, she gave an interview to Huanita Dragicevic for Radio "Mir" Medjugorje.
Huanita Dragicevic: Mrs Traun, Praised be Jesus Christ, and welcome again to Medjugorje! In the beginning of our interview, I would like to ask you to be so kind to tell us something about yourself. You are Felicia of Abensperg and Traun, and this is certainly very interesting for our readers!
Felicia v. Abensperg u. Traun: I am nobody. I am just a pilgrim. I came to Medjugorje for the first time in 1983 because of some friends of mine who were talking about this place. I was raised in faith and I always believed that everything was possible to God, and this is why I came. From the very moment that I came, I was very blessed. I met Fr. Slavko Barbaric and the visionaries, and I had the opportunity to be with them in the little room in the church, and during the apparition. I loved Medjugorje from the very first moment. At that time, it was a simple, beautiful little village with old houses, in a magnificent and genuine countryside, surrounded by mountains.
You met Fr. Slavko and the visionaries. Would you tell us something about your first impressions?
The church made a most deep impression on me. I think that I have never before seen a church so filled with people and with prayer, a church where the sacraments are received with so much fervour and devotion. I was also deeply impressed by the faith, the faith with which people climb Cross Mountain, and by the simplicity that we felt in the conversation with the children, the visionaries. I also remember their parents: we had a glass of wine together, in the fields… Fr. Slavko, who gave the impression of a balanced and intelligent person, mostly accompanied me. I felt that I could trust him, and believe in what he was telling, and so, without any doubt in my heart, I believed in the authenticity of the events of Medjugorje.
You came for the first time to Medjugorje at the very beginning of the apparitions, and since then, you have come almost twenty times. What is calling you back to the Shrine of the Queen of Peace?
Yes, I always have the desire to come back, because this is my home. For me, Medjugorje is like a source of fresh water, where I come to drink, and to feel the power of God and the strength of Our Lady. The world we live in is different, very rough; there are so many things that surround us, that are offered to us, and that are happening, and there is so little presence of God in them. There are so many things that we still have to learn… Each time I come to Medjugorje, I learn something new.
There is more and more violence in the world; God seems to be so little present. You are spending one part of the year in Madrid, and the other in Austria, and you are travelling a lot. What could you tell us about people that you meet, about places where you live? How do people live their faith there?
It is different. Some don't live their faith, some do, but apparently every day less and less. When you come to Medjugorje, there is more and more faith! Everything is encouraging you to become stronger in faith. You feel Our Lady's messages in your heart and you want to live them. If you don't live them, you do nothing good for God. When I go away from Medjugorje, I try to meditate and to live Our Lady's messages, and with the help of God, I try to bring them closer to the hearts of people that surround me. Some are interested in it and they come with me, others don't. I feel nevertheless that I have to try to make them know these messages; all that I do, I want to do it for the greater glory of God.
You have six children and nineteen grandchildren. Tell us something about your family. Have they come with you to Medjugorje?
My children and my grandchildren are a gift and a blessing of God for me. When they were younger, all my children came with me to Medjugorje and they were all very impressed. They have their own lives now, but I have a great desire -
You did dot mention your husband. Has he come to Medjugorje too?
My husband was a man of great faith, and he came with me on pilgrimage to Medjugorje. When I invited him to come, he said: "How could I refuse you?", and he came. Although he had a deep faith, it was difficult for him to pray. But when he came to Medjugorje, he spent all his time in the church. While I went to the mountains and to the visionaries, he was in the church and it was not easy to take him away. That pilgrimage has changed our lives, our way of seeing things, our life as a couple.
You husband unfortunately departed ten years ago…
Yes, he died in a car accident, close to our house in Austria. He was coming back from hunting on a Sunday afternoon, and a car drove straight into him. I think that he was prepared: he received Holy Communion that morning, and this is most important for me. I continue to live without him, together with our big family. Since then, God has given me many graces, many young families and young people, and I feel that my husband is still with me, maybe even more then when he was alive. I will never forget how Fr. Svetozar Kraljevic came for his burial. With another young priest, a friend of mine, he drove the whole night in order to be with me on that difficult day, and I will never forget this. I am very grateful to him for that, and we are great friends.
How has this friendship begun? We know that -
Our friendship began in a very unusual way. Before I knew him, I used to know Fr. Slavko very well, who came to visit us often in Austria. This friendship with Fr. Svetozar was really in God's Providence… It was in the eighties, on a very warm day of August. I wanted to go to the church to refresh myself, and there, I heard a priest talking to English speaking pilgrims. I felt a voice within me telling me: "Felicia, go and ask this priest what he needs!" The voice was very persistent, so I stood up and went towards him, but there were so many people around him, in front of the altar! A friend of mine asked me: "What are you doing!?" I answered that I had to speak to this priest. It was quite incredible: our eyes met, he came towards me and took me to the sacristy; the visionary Marija was also there. He offered a chair to me, thinking that I wanted to make a confession. He asked me: "Who are you? Do you need something? Do you want to make a confession?" I answered: "No, Father, maybe tomorrow, not now; I came to ask you if you need something!!?" He looked at me, very surprised, and he asked me to repeat what I said. I said: "I have the feeling that you need something very badly!" Then, he joined his hands and kept on repeating: "This is incredible! This is incredible! You see, I have no passport and I cannot travel, and I have a great desire to build a church in Konjic, so that people from six villages may go for Mass. Can you help me? Do you know people who could help me?" I answered: "Yes, Father, I am travelling very much and I know people. We will do what you are asking. I don't know how, but I know that we will do it." And so it was. The church is there. I was present on the day of its consecration, only two days before the wedding of my daughter. I remember that we were dancing together, the people and the Franciscans. I also remember that people from other religions were there. It was an experience that I will never, never forget!
This is wonderful, but this is not all… you have also offered a big golden monstrance for St. James' church in Medjugorje.
This was another inspiration from God. It is not I; I have just a little part in this great work. It was in 2000. I met Fr. Svet, he invited me for a cup of coffee, and I said that there must be something else, not just a cup of coffee. During three years, in Medjugorje, I was only crying, praying to God and resting in the presence of Our Lady. Then I felt that Our Lady has enrolled me into her army, and that I have to work for her. When I accepted that cup of coffee with Fr. Svet, I knew that -
Thank you for this! But this is still not all! You are helping other people also. You are working with handicapped children in Bulgaria and you would like to establish a link between the children from our region and the children from Bulgaria. Can you tell us something about this project?
I have to repeat that I am nothing. I am just an instrument. Yes, I am connected with handicapped children in Bulgaria. My mother was of Bulgarian origin and the property of my grandparents in Varna at the Black Sea was inhabited through the Communist time by the Navy. We got the house back through my first cousin, Ivan Stancioff. We opened the Home for 150 very handicapped children. I was thinking of it yesterday, when we visited Mother's Village in Medjugorje, which impressed me a lot. Swani from Austria, who is working with handicapped children here, showed me some photos of handicapped children from this region, and it made me very sad: these children never leave their rooms… so, I was thinking that, maybe, we could organise holidays for them and take them to Bulgaria. I will contact my cousin, who is in charge of this project in Varna, and we may set off a partnership between these two institutions. Ivan Stancioff was the first Minister of foreign affairs of Bulgaria after the fall of the communism, and the first Ambassador of Bulgaria in London. The history is returning: our grandfather was the last Ambassador of Bulgaria in London before the communism…
This is a really interesting interview, we could go on for days, but now, at the and, we will ask you, to give a message to our readers…
I have nothing to say. My message is the message of Our Lady. Do what Our Lady is asking from us, because her messages are coming from God. I would also like to share with you my experience with Mother Teresa from Calcutta. I had the honour to meet her and to know her personally. I was with her in Vienna and I had with me some blessed medals from Medjugorje. She gave me some Miraculous Medals from Paris, Rue de Bac, and I asked her: "May I give you a medal from Medjugorje? Have you heard about Medjugorje?" And she answered: "O my child, do I know about Medjugorje? Off course I know about Medjugorje! I would like to go there!" "So, why aren't you going?", I asked her. And she answered: "You see, I cannot go before the Holy Father goes! But I believe in Medjugorje." Let me also add, that I know, that our Pope has recommended to many priests and faithful to go to Medjugorje, because he believes in Medjugorje. He cannot disbelieve in Medjugorje, because it is a place of prayer and great fruits, and this is the most important.