On the second day of his pastoral visit to Croatia, Pope John Paul II arrived at the Dubrovnik airport in Ailipi at 9.50 a.m. Friday where he was welcomed by the Bishop of Dubrovnik, Monsignor Želimir Puljć, the prefect of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County Ivan Šprlje, the Mayor of Dubrovnik Dubravka Šuica, the head of the Konavle borough Luka Korda and the director of Dubrovnik airport Tonai Peović.
Prefect Ivan Šprlje and Mayor Dubravka Šuica wlecomed the Holy Father with a gift consisting of a gold coin and a statue of St. Blaise. The Holy Father then made his way to Dubrovnik, where he will celebrate Holy Mass at Gruz harbour at 11 a.m., and the beatification of the servant of God, Mary of Jesus crucified Petković.
At 10.40 a.m. the Holy Father arrived at Gruž harbour where he was welcomed by more than 60,000 faithful. Driving by in the Popemobile, the Holy Father blessed and greeted the faithful from all over Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Vojvodina, as well as those who travelled from Paraguay, Argentina, Peru and Chile to line the streets of Dubrovnik. Holy Mass in this ancient coastal city and resort will be attended by representatives of other religious communities, as well as Croatian officials headed by President Stjepan Mesić.
At 11.15 a.m. the Holy Father ascended the altar at Gruž harbour where he was welcomed with an applause and the faithful who shouted: John Paul.
Welcoming the Holy Father, the Bishop of Dubrovnik Želimir Puljić said: "Welcome to a city filled with memories of historic ties to the Apostolic See". He also extended best wishes to the Pope on the 25th anniversary as the head of the Catholic Church and on his 83rd birthday. "Dubrovnik, which is an integral part of European and world heritage rejoices today. Gruž harbour rings with the sound of song because your feet have touched the soil of this diocese, which may be small, but has a rich history. The faithful, God's children, rejoice that your hands will bless the people of this region and the soil of this diocese and the homeland, which has seen bloodshed and suffering," Puljić said. He thanked the Pope for his support of the people of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina during the Homeland War.
He added that the people of Croatia wished to remain the grateful children of Mary and Peter and once again thanked him for his pastoral visit to the Dubrovnik diocese. Pope John Paul II celebrated Holy Mass at Gruž harbour on Friday where he beatified Mary of Jesus Crucified Petković, the founder of the Sisters of Mercy.
At the ceremony, the Holy Father asked that 9 July be celebrated as the Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified Petković Day, in memory of her deeds and at places and in ways as defined by canon law. After the ceremonies, a painting of the Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified Petković was unveiled at the altar.
After the beatification ceremony of the Servant of God Mary of Jesus Crucified Petković in Gruž harbour, Pope John Paul II held a sermon, which was interrupted by applause coming from the faithful gathered there.
Addressing the faithful and the clergy, the Holy Father remembered his predecessor Pope Pius IV, who was also the Archbishop of Dubrovnik. He said that it was with joy that he had come to Dubrovnik, an ancient and renowned town proud of its history and heritage; its struggle for freedom, rights and the promotion of overall well-being. He added that the words written above the Lovrijenac fort bore testimony to this - "Freedom is not sold, not for all the treasures of this world", as well as those inscribed above the town hall "Forget personal gain and care for the common good".
Speaking about Mary of Jesus Crucified Petković, the Holy Father said that her image lead to contemplation on all Crtian women, wives and mothers, and all those who carried sadness in their hearts as a result of the loss of their families during the 1990s war, or as the result of other events.
The Holy Father called upon all Croatian women to look at every individual with their hearts and filled with sensibility, a feeling unique to all mothers.
Ending the Holy Mass in Dubrovnik, Pope John Paul II thanked the faithful for the warm welcome. "My wish has come true. I thank God and you for this beautiful welcome," the Pontiff said. The Holy Father blessed the faithful, their families, the youth, with the message that they step boldly forward.
The Holy Father also blessed the gifts received from the faithful, as well as the foundation stones for the new church. The faithful gifted the Pope with a gilded porcelain cross, the CD "John Paul II and Dubrovnik", with the renowned Dingač wine from Pelješac, a chalice and a Bible. Other gifts included bread from Bačka, where the Blessed Servant of God Mary of Jesus Crucified Petković begged for wheat to feed the hungry. The faithful from Janjevo, a former Dubrovnik community in Kosovo, gifted the pope with a silver rosary.
The Mayor of Dubrovnik Dubravka Šuica gifted the Holy Father with the statute of the City of Dubrovnik; the deputy prefect of the Dubrovnik-Neretva County with a statue of St. Blaise and the architect who designed the altar Stijepo Butijer gave him a painting of the Crucifixion by Josip Škerlje.
Twelve of the faithful from the Dubrovnik diocese prayed for peace and constancy in promoting the Gospels, thanked the Pope for his visit and prayed for his health.
At the end of Holy Mass, the Bishop of Dubrovnik Želimir Puljić thanked the Holy Father for his pastoral visit. "It was truly a beautiful experience, and it cannot be otherwise when we are with the Pope and the Pope is with us," Puljić said.
Holy Mass in Dubrovnik ended with the Croatian national anthem and the song Virgin of Heaven, Queen of the Croats.
The Rijeka Archdiocese Ordinariate said Friday that Thursday's welcoing ceremony for the Pope, which gathered some 50,000 residents of Rijeka and surrounding areas, best showed how much Croatian citizens valued and respected the Holy Father and his apostolic messages.
The Ordinariate especially stressed the Pope's message of love to the whole of Croatia, which he said he was visiting with great affection for the third time in the past decade. It also said that the Pope's message calling for love and unity in the world was one that was especially appreciated. ?It is proof of the Pope's unreserved support to Croatia's bids to become, as soon as possible, part of the European community of peoples whose historical, cultural and religious heritage it shares,? the statement read. The Archbishop of Rijeka Monsignor Ivan Devčić thanked all citizens of Rijeka and the Gorski kotar-Primorje County for welcoming the Holy Father.
The Holy Father had lunch with the bishop of Dubrovnik Monsignor elimir Puljić, along with members of his entourage.
At 5.47 p.m, with bells tolling from all towers, the Pope made his way to the Bishops Palace on the Stradun, the main gathering place in the centre of Dubrovnik and a gem of Croatian architecture and culture. I greet Dubrovnik and the children who have taken their First Communion. May God bless you. This beautiful city, these beautiful children and youth, as well as those who have seen more years, they are all beautiful and good, Pope John Paul II said in front of the Church of St Blaise. As he left, he greeted the faithful with Praised be Jesus and Mary. At around 6 p.m. the Popemobile made its way to the airport in Ćilipi from where the Pope returned to Rijeka, where he is residing during his visit to Croatia.