Pope Francis has named a Polish archbishop as special envoy to a Bosnian town that has become a pilgrimage site since 1981 because of reported appearances by the Virgin Mary.
Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said on February 11 that Pope Francis is sending Bishop Henryk Hoser to a Medjugorje shrine to gain "deeper knowledge" of the needs of millions of Catholics drawn there by the reports of the apparitions.
He said the mission is intended to study "the needs of the faithful who go there on pilgrimage" and will not involve deciding the merits of the reported apparitions.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, is said to have appeared to six young people in Medjugorje in 1981 and is reported to have continued to visit them ever since.
About a million people visit Medjugorje each year.
In 2013, Pope Francis issued a word of caution about the events, which many people have called a "miracle."
"The Virgin is not a post office chief who would send messages every day," he said.
Based on reporting by AFP and AP