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Friday, June 6, 2003


VATICAN CITY, JUN 6, 2003 (VIS) - Early this morning the Holy Father went by plane from Rijeka to Dubrovnik, a city of approximately 46,000 people located on the southern coast of Croatia, where he celebrated Mass and beatified Servant of God Sister Marija of Jesus Crucified Petkovic. After his arrival, he rode in the popemobile to the harbor, where he was welcomed by an estimated 50,000 people who had been waiting anxiously for hours for his arrival. Among the many Croatian authorities present was President Stiepan Mesic.

In his homily the Holy Father affirmed that Sister Marija, "overwhelmed by God's love, chose to consecrate herself to Him forever and to fulfill her aspiration to total devotion to the spiritual and material well-being of those most in need. Later she founded the Congregation of the Daughters of Mercy of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis, with the specific task of 'spreading knowledge of God's love through the spiritual and corporal works of mercy'." He added that, despite many difficulties, the Blessed persevered, "offering up her sufferings as so many acts of worship and supporting her Sisters by her words and her example. For forty years she guided her Institute with maternal wisdom, opening it to missionary commitment in various countries of Latin America."

"The figure of Blessed Marija Propetoga Isusa reminds me of all the women of Croatia, those who are wives and mothers, those whose lives were for ever changed by the grief of losing a family member in the cruel war of the 1990s or by other bitter troubles which they have endured."

John Paul II emphasized that "the frenetic pace of modern life can lead to an obscuring or even a loss of what is truly human. Perhaps more than in other periods of history, our time is in need of 'that genius which belongs to women, and which can ensure sensitivity for human beings in every circumstance'. Women of Croatia, conscious of your lofty vocation as 'wives' and 'mothers', continue to see every person with the eyes of the heart. Continue to reach out to them and to stand beside them with the sensitivity born of your maternal instinct. Your presence is indispensable in the family, in society, and in the ecclesial community."

"In a particular way, I think of you, consecrated women, who, like Marija Petkovic, have accepted the invitation to follow with an undivided heart Jesus Christ, chaste, poor and obedient. Be tireless in responding faithfully to the one Love of your life. For the consecrated life is not only a generous commitment on the part of a human being; it is first and foremost a response to a gift from on high which cries out to be accepted in complete openness. May the daily experience of God's freely-given love inspire you to give your lives unreservedly to the service of the Church and of your brothers and sisters commending all things, present and future, to his hands."

The Pope concluded by saying: "May your Christian community grow and be strengthened in mutual forgiveness, charity and peace."

After the beatification, the Holy Father went to Bishop Zelimer Puljic's residence in Dubrovnik for lunch.

This afternoon, the Pope is scheduled to return to Rijeka by plane where he is to spend the night in the archdiocesan seminary.


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