Ivo Sivric was born in 1917 in the village of Medjugorje, located in the then Yugoslav republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina. He was ordained a Franciscan priest in Mostar in 1941, was interned for some time in a Communist concentration camp, and finally escaped to Italy, where he earned his doctorate in sacred theology in Rome. Two of Sivric's brothers and 25 of his first and second cousins had been killed in the ethnic violence that erupted in Yugoslavia during the Second World War.
In 1947 Sivric immigrated to the United States, where he served as a priest throughout the Beaver Valley area of Pennsylvania, operating out of the Franciscan Fathers Monastery in Beaver Falls. He also taught for many years at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. Eventually he became an American citizen.
Sivric was the author of four books: _Bishop J. G. Strossmayer: New Light on Vatican I_ Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1975); _The Peasant Culture of Bosnia and Herzegovina_ (Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1982); _The Hidden Side of Medjugorje: A New Look at the "Apparitions" of the Virgin Mary in Yugoslavia_, originally published in French in 1988 (Saint-Francois-du-Lac, Quebec, Canada: Psilog, 1989); and _Covjek i Smrt_ [_Man and Death-.J (Mostar: Biskupijski ordinarijat Mostar, 1993). According to one of Sivric's letters in this collection, he also wrote a book on C. S. Lewis. His work on Medjugorje raised a firestorm of controversy.
On June 24, 1981 six Medjugorje children reported that they had seen an apparition of the Virgin Mary. The visions have allegedly continued since that time, with the Virgin supposedly giving messages about world events, revealing images of heaven and hell, requesting prayers for peace, and performing miracles such as making the sun dance. The town became a magnet for an estimated 30 million pilgrims over the years. In 1988 Sivric published his book disputing the authenticity of the phenomena, drawing on his intimate knowledge of the area as well as on theological and historical arguments. He was excoriated not only by believers in the Medjugorje story but also by his fellow Franciscans of Herzegovina, and his family in Medjugorje suffered some indignities. In 1992, however, the Yugoslav bishops declared that evidence for the supernatural in the Medjugorje phenomena was lacking.
Patrick McCarthy of the Pius Library staff was instrumental in bringing Sivric's papers on Medjugorje to the Archives. He remembered Sivric as "a warm and caring priest who had great intellectual curiosity and interest." For many years Sivric was a resident priest at St. Joseph's Croatian Catholic Church in the Soulard neighborhood of St. Louis.