Residents of a small town in the south of Bosnia-Herzegovina remain hopeful that the Vatican will formally recognize apparitions of the Virgin Mary reported at a local shrine.

People in Medjugorje had hoped Pope Francis might stop in the town when he visits next month to celebrate an outdoor Mass in Saravejo. More than 50,000 people have already registered to attend.

The pope won't make it to Medjugorje, but pilgrims and residents there are still welcoming his visit. The site has drawn millions of faithful a year since 1981, when six local youths said they regularly saw visions of the Virgin.

Medjugorje resident Danijela Susac says it's important that the Vatican not rush to decide whether to formally recognize the apparitions, which it's been investigating for five years. An investigation was completed last year, but the results have not been announced.