On August 27, 2002, two girls from the village of Nyzhne Bolotne (in Western Ukraine) went to a grove to get some water from the spring there. Olenka Kuruts was ten years old, and her friend, Mar’yanka Kobal, was nine years old. Olenka looked up to see a “beautiful lady” standing at some distance behind Mar’yanka. When Mar’yanka first turned around to look, she did not see her. But after she filled her bucket with water and looked around again, she did also see the “beautiful lady,” standing quietly several paces away. Because the lady did not say anything, they became frightened, thinking she might be a witch. The lady was standing on a small cloud adorned with all kinds of flowers, just above the ground. Mary was wearing a white dress with a blue belt and a white headscarf. As the girls took their filled buckets and headed back to the village, the lady on the cloud glided along behind them, escorting them home.
Olenka’s parents disbelieved her story and reprimanded her for wasting time on such foolishness. But Mar’yanka’s father was a priest, so he cautioned the girls to be careful and always make the sign of the cross.
Later that same day, the girls headed to pick up Olenka’s younger sister from kindergarten when they saw the lady on the little cloud again. When they made the sign of the cross to protect themselves, the lady was quite pleased and smiled radiantly. Mary then made the sign of the cross in return with her folded fingers. When the girls asked who she was, they were told that she was “The Most Pure Virgin.” On their way home from the kindergarten, the lady appeared again – this time with “two angels” with her. One “angel” was taller than the other. They later learned that these were “guardian angels.” A third angel which appeared in later encounters was identified as St. Michael.
As the children became more accustomed to seeing the Blessed Virgin, they became bolder, asking her many questions. Mary said that she came to promote the authority of the priests among the people, to unite the church, to bring together the Ukrainian people who were separated, and promote more prayer. Mary wanted the children’s parents to go to the spring in the woods to pray, but Mar’yanka’s father, the priest, was reluctant because it did not seem proper. Mary asked – through the children – for the priest to inform the local church authorities of her appearances by telling “the old Bishop Marhitych” first.
The bishop was informed and immediately came to their village to question the young girls closely. He wanted to know if she could confirm her identity in some manner to them. The girls replied that when people started praying at the spring in the woods that a confirmation would happen. Therefore, on August 31, 2002, Bishop Marhitych held a religious service at the spring in the woods (known as Jublyk).
Word spread, and soon many pilgrims from all over the Ukraine were coming to this area in hopes of seeing a miracle. A chapel was eventually built there and sightings of Mary happened with others at this place. Some reported that Mary was weeping; others saw the Holy Family. The cross standing in front of this chapel lost its gilding and blood appeared instead. A sample was sent to a laboratory, and tests revealed that it truly was blood (as reported in a May 12, 2004 newspaper). Many people reported that they could look directly at the sun without blinking or injury while at Jublyk. Miracles were reported occurring at the spring of water. Some people smelled incense or roses — despite neither being visibly present. Another reliable report claimed that the sun appeared completely different – “with a circle of different colors” around it.
Several weeks after these events first began, Olenka saw a man strangely appear next to the priest during a church service. She whispered to Mar’yanka next to her who noted only the silhouette of a man initially – which then developed into a visual appearance of a tall man with shoulder-length hair and a small beard. Mar’yanka then whispered to her Mom what she was seeing – “the man wore a blue garment with a red shirt underneath … his feet could not be seen as they were hidden by a small cloud.” She described wounds on his hands and that he was very good looking. The girls both reported that he was conducting the service along with priest, making all the same gestures. Wondering if this had been Jesus, they asked the Virgin Mary at her next appearance, and she confirmed that it had been Jesus whom they had seen! They also saw, on another occasion, a man in a brown robe holding a long stick in one hand and a lily in the other. They wondered if this might have been St. Joseph.
There remained many skeptics and doubters who thought the girls must be hallucinating, making it all up, or psychic in ability. But the girls not only were healthy, normal, and active in typical events for their age, but they had no history of any disorders, lying, or fabricating tall tales.
One day, accompanied by eight other children, they went to the spring in the woods where Mary appeared to them again. They invited the other children to kiss the Virgin’s hand or feet. Even though the other children could not see her, when they were guided to where her feet would be and kissed the area, they sensed “a strange warmth” there. On the way home, they all observed a mysterious light following them to their village.
On another occasion, Olenka kissed the feet of Christ when he appeared before her – but then felt a sharp pain stab her in the hands, feet, heart, and head. She collapsed to the ground, and the other children had difficulty raising her. She stretched on the ground, spreading her arms out, assuming the position of someone being crucified. Again, she could not be lifted from the ground. A young boy ran back to the village for help, returning with Reverend Atanasy Chiypesh and a watchman. They eventually got her to her home after sprinkling water from the spring on her face. Unable to speak yet, she wrote on paper for her parents that she would not be able to attend school during Lent due to her inability to walk. Rev. Atanasy interviewed her carefully, learning that she had accepted an offer to suffer along with Jesus and not be able to walk until Easter. In a dream at night, the Virgin Mary took her on a cloud, riding to Paradise, Purgatory, and Hell. She was surprised to see bishops and priests in all three places. Mary explained that they were in Hell because they did not really believe in God. Some priests were in Purgatory because they did not listen to the righteous bishops as they should have. The stigmata pains lasted for some time for Olenka, but they are all gone now.