500,000 to Turn Out for Pope in Croatia

Tight Security Planned in Balkan Nation

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ZAGREB, Croatia, JUNE 5, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Some 500,000 faithful are expected to come out to greet John Paul II during his trip to this Balkan nation.

The Pope will go to five key Croatian cities, covering several thousand kilometers by plane, and returning every night to Rijeka on the Adriatic coast, where he is staying.

Several thousand pilgrims will arrive from Slovenia, Serbia and Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the ANSA agency reported.

Following his visits in 1994 and 1998, the Pope’s current trip to Croatia has as its motto «The Family: The Path of the Church and the Nation.»

The Holy Father will offer Croats a model of evangelical fidelity on Friday in Dubrovnik, when he beatifies Sister Maria of Jesus Crucified Petkovic, founder of the Franciscan Congregation of Daughters of Mercy.

Painters, sculptors, artists, families, parishes, associations, and numerous faithful are celebrating this papal visit with gifts for the Pope. The gifts have been on display since Wednesday at the episcopal residence in Djakovo.

In the main, the gifts are paintings, books, embroidery, tapestries, crosses and sculptures. Some of them will be given to the Pope on Saturday at Osijek and Djakovo.

Tight security measures have been taken for the Pope’s visit. Pilgrims attending the ceremonies in Dubrovnik, Osijek, Djakovo, Zadar and Rijeka may not carry umbrellas or mobile phones. Cameras and video cameras will be checked.

Windows overlooking streets where the papal entourage will pass must remain closed. Some 10,000 police agents will be mobilized, Croatian Police Chief Ranko Ostojic reported.

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