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CROATIA - HRVATSKA

Pope Saint John Paul II was a pilgrim to Croatia 3 times: in 1994, 1998 & 2003. Papa Benedict XVI followed in his footsteps in 2011.

Here below are responses to Totus2us podcasts given by Croatians
- many thanks to you all  ♥

To download the free mp3 Totus2us audio recordings individually, right/double click on the play buttons.
Za preuzimanje besplatno mp3 Totus2us audio snimke individualno, zar ne / dvaput kliknite na play tipke.

Biljana      

"I love Our Lady. I’ve been in Medjugorje and I prayed for everybody, for the whole world, and thank God for everything that He gives to us."

Biljana gives her something about Mary in English & Croatian.

Danijela      

"Our Lady is so real, in that she has really been a true mother through my whole life, accompanying me at all difficult moments and at the happy moments, and I hope and pray that she will always stay close to me."

Ljubica      

"Every single day Mary is in my life."

Marina      

"With Mary, every end becomes a new beginning, every obstacle turns into a wonderful blessing."

Saint John Paul II, Marina loves you!      

Marina has thought of JP2 as a true part of her family ever since her grandmother met him early on in his papacy. She also recalls his visit to Croatia in 1994.

JPII - "Do not abandon yourself to despair.  We are Easter people and Alleluia is our song."

Pope John Paul II's reflection on his 1998 pilgrimage to Croatia
General Audience, Wednesday 7 October 1998 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. I made my second Pastoral Visit to Croatia from Friday to Sunday last. While the images of this pilgrimage are still fresh in my mind, I would like to reflect briefly on its meaning, putting it in the context of the historical events that involved not only Croatia, but all of Europe.

First of all I thank God who allowed me to have this very intense experience. My gratitude also goes to the beloved Bishops of Croatia as well as to the President of the Republic, to the authorities and to everyone who made it possible for the Successor of Peter to have another meeting with the Croatian nation, which has remained faithful to him for more than 13 centuries.

The theme of the visit echoed the words of the risen Christ to the Apostles: “You shall be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). A pilgrimage, then, whose hallmark was witness. And it is from this viewpoint that I could embrace in spirit almost two millenniums of history: from the martyrs of the Roman persecutions to those of the recent communist regime; from St Domnius, Bishop of Salona [Solin], the ancient primatial see, to Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, Archbishop of Zagreb, whose beatification crowned my stay in Croatia. The solemn liturgical celebration must be seen then against the background of historical events dating back to ancient Rome, when the country was not yet inhabited by Croats.

The other focal point of my apostolic visit was the celebration of the 1,700th anniversary of the city and the Church of Split. Both these events were accompanied by a Marian pilgrimage: first to the national shrine of Marija Bistrica and then to Our Lady of the Island in Solin, the oldest shrine in Croatia dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. This is a very important fact. Indeed, when a people experiences the hour of the passion and the cross, it feels closer than ever to the Mother of Christ, who becomes a sign of hope and comfort. So it was for my homeland, Poland; so it was for Croatia, and for every Christian nation sorely tried by historical events.

2. In Te, Domine, speravi: this was the motto of Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, at whose tomb I paused in prayer as soon as I had arrived in Zagreb. His figure symbolizes the entire tragedy which struck Europe in this century, marked by the great evils of fascism, nazism and communism. In him the Catholic response shines brightly in its fullness: faith in God, respect for man, love for all confirmed by forgiveness, and unity with the Church guided by the Successor of Peter.

His persecution and show trial resulted from his refusal to comply with the regime's insistence that he break with the Pope and the Apostolic See and become head of a “national Croatian church”. He preferred to remain faithful to the Successor of Peter. For this reason he was slandered and then condemned.

In his beatification we see the victory of Christ’s Gospel over totalitarian ideologies; the victory of the rights of God and conscience over violence and oppression; the victory of forgiveness and reconciliation over hatred and revenge. Bl. Stepinac thus symbolizes the Croatia which wants to forgive and be reconciled, to purify its memory of bitterness and overcome evil with good.

3. For some time I have wanted to make a personal visit to the famous Shrine of Marija Bistrica. Providence arranged that this should take place on the occasion of Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac’s beatification. From the beginning of his episcopate, he personally led the annual votive pilgrimage, on foot, from the city of Zagreb to the shrine, located about 50 km. from the capital, until the communist authorities forbade any public display of religion.

The ancient and revered wooden statue of Our Lady and Child, which the faithful were forced to hide in order to preserve it from sacrilege and destruction during the Ottoman invasion in the 16th century, represents in a certain sense the painful history of the Croatian people for over 1,300 years. Cardinal Stepinac’s beatification at that shrine, with the visit to Split the next day, was cast against the background of events dating back to ancient times when the city was part of the Roman Empire.

Hidden in the centre of the modern city of Split, which includes the ancient episcopal see of Salona, are the palace and mausoleum of the Emperor Diocletian, one of the most cruel persecutors of Christians. A few centuries later the mausoleum was transformed into a cathedral, and within its walls are the relics of St Domnius, the martyred Bishop of Salona. I paused in prayer before his tomb, thinking back over the long history that extends from Diocletian to the events of our century, marked by equally ferocious persecutions but also illumined by martrys who were no less glorious than those of antiquity.

4. The oldest remnants of Christianity in the region are found in Solin, where the Marian shrine dedicated to Our Lady of the Island is located. It is precisely here that I wished to meet the catechists, teachers and members of ecclesial associations and movements, who are mainly young: near the memorials of our Christian roots, we prayed for the future of the Church and of evangelization.

The areas were the greatest work is called for are those of the family, life and youth, as I recalled at the meeting with the Croatian Episcopal Conference. In each of these areas Christians are called to bear a witness of Gospel integrity in both their personal and collective decisions. The healing of the wounds caused by the war, the building of a just and lasting peace and, especially, the restoration of the moral values undermined by the previous totalitarian regimes require long and patient work in which you must continually return to the spiritual legacy bequeathed by your ancestors.

The figure of Bl. Alojzije Stepinac is a reference point for everyone to look to for inspiration and support. With his beatification that struggle between the Gospel and the anti-Gospel which runs through history is unveiled before us against the backdrop of the ages. This contemporary martyr, still remembered by the elderly, became a great symbol of this battle: ever since a new society began to take shape on the ruins of the Roman Empire and the Croats reached the shores of the Adriatic, through the difficult times of Ottoman rule to our own turbulent and tragic century, the Church has continued to meet the challenges of evil by proclaiming the word of the Gospel with fearless strength.

In a span of over 13 centuries, Croats, after accepting this Word and receiving Baptism, have preserved their fidelity to Christ and the Church, and have confirmed it on the threshold of the third millennium. The blessed martyr Alojzije Stepinac, Archbishop of Zagreb, is a witness to this! His figure is linked to that of the ancient martyrs: despite Diocletian’s intentions, the persecutions of the early centuries only strengthened the Church’s presence in the ancient world. Let us pray to the Lord, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Advocata Croatiae, Mater fidelissima, that the persecutions of modern times will lead to a new flourshing of ecclesial life in Croatia and throughout the world."

Pope John Paul II's reflection about his 1994 pilgrimage to Croatia
General Audience, Wednesday 14 September 1994 - in Italian & Spanish

"Carissimi Fratelli e Sorelle!
1. Come sapete, sabato e domenica scorsi ho avuto la gioia di recarmi in Croazia per visitare la Chiesa di Zagabria, in occasione del nono centenario della fondazione dell’Arcidiocesi. Tale visita, nelle originarie intenzioni, faceva parte di un più ampio pellegrinaggio pastorale comprendente anche Belgrado e Sarajevo.

Ringrazio il Signore, che mi ha consentito di recare conforto e incoraggiamento a tutti coloro che si impegnano per la pace nell’intera regione balcanica. Desidero inoltre esprimere nuovamente la mia riconoscenza a quanti mi hanno invitato in quella amata terra, in special modo al Presidente Signor Franjo Tudjman e all’Arcivescovo di Zagabria, Card. Franjo Kuharic. Ringrazio pure quanti hanno collaborato per la buona riuscita dell’incontro e i numerosissimi fedeli che, anche a costo di duri sacrifici, hanno voluto stringersi intorno al Successore di Pietro.

2. Quello croato fu il primo popolo slavo ad incontrarsi col Cristianesimo: la sua evangelizzazione, cominciata già nel secolo settimo, fu curata da missionari giunti da Roma e risentì poi del benefico influsso dei Santi Fratelli Cirillo e Metodio, apostoli degli slavi. La Nazione croata strinse ben presto un rapporto di singolare comunione con la Santa Sede, che andò progressivamente sviluppandosi ed approfondendosi nel corso dei secoli. Papa Giovanni X si rivolgeva al primo re croato Tomislav (910-930), qualificandone i sudditi come “specialissimi filii Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae”. All’epoca della penetrazione ottomana in Europa, Leone X tributò ai Croati il titolo di “scutum saldissimum et antemurale Christianitatis”. È un titolo che aveva il suo significato più profondo e vero nella storia di fede e di santità che il popolo croato ha saputo realizzare, e che ben emerge anche nei nove secoli di vita della Chiesa di Zagabria.

3. In questo nostro secolo la Croazia è rimasta coinvolta nel dramma che si è consumato nei Balcani, durante gli anni fra i due conflitti mondiali, e poi, dopo la seconda guerra mondiale, nelle vicende della Federazione jugoslava e della successiva sua crisi.

Figura eminente della Chiesa croata in questi sofferti decenni è stato il Cardinale Arcivescovo di Zagabria Alojzije Stepinac, che ha testimoniato con intrepido coraggio adesione al Vangelo e fedeltà alla Sede Apostolica. Ma non è stato il solo. Con lui tanti altri Pastori, fino ai giorni nostri, hanno saputo condividere le sofferenze del popolo croato, alimentando nei loro fedeli la fiamma della fede e della speranza.

Con questi medesimi intendimenti continua a lavorare anche oggi la Chiesa che è in Croazia, in sincera collaborazione con le altre Comunità cristiane e non cristiane e con tutte le persone di buona volontà.

4. Carissimi, quella compiuta era una visita da tanto tempo attesa. Essa è stata preceduta da un intenso periodo di preghiera, segnato da numerose iniziative, tra le quali va ricordata quella di “un milione di rosari” per il buon esito del viaggio.

Il momento culminante della visita è stata la celebrazione della Santa Messa. Ad essa ha preso parte un’immensa folla di fedeli, i quali con grande trasporto pregavano, cantavano e imploravano la benedizione del Signore per potere affrontare le difficoltà del momento presente e costruire un futuro migliore.

L’entusiasmo dei giovani è stato per me motivo di conforto e di speranza. Vi ho letto la disponibilità delle nuove generazioni ad accogliere ed a mettere in pratica il messaggio di riconciliazione che ho recato loro in nome di Cristo. Non posso inoltre non ricordare qui l’incontro con i profughi e pellegrini provenienti da centoquindici parrocchie distrutte della Croazia, come pure quelli giunti dalla Bosnia ed Erzegovina, ai quali ho riaffermato la mia viva intenzione di recarmi a Sarajevo, appena le circostanze lo consentiranno.

Per la pace in quelle martoriate terre è importante continuare a pregare Dio con insistenza e fiducia. Occorre però anche - come ho fortemente ricordato a Zagabria - perdonare e chiedere perdono, se si vuole ottenere questo inestimabile bene e dare inizio ad una nuova stagione di reciproca intesa e di prosperità. Al perdono ci impegna la comune condizione di figli dell’unico Padre celeste, il quale non esclude nessuno dalla tenerezza del suo amore, al di là della razza, della cultura, della nazionalità.

Vi invito tutti ad unirvi a me nella preghiera a Dio per l’amata Chiesa di Zagabria, per gli abitanti della Croazia ed in particolare per le popolazioni di Sarajevo e della Bosnia ed Erzegovina, che hanno un posto speciale nel mio cuore.

La Vergine Santa, Regina della Pace, affretti in ogni parte dei Balcani il momento della riconciliazione e si apra per tutti la sospirata stagione di una pace giusta e duratura nel rispetto reciproco e nella solidarietà."