Pope visits Croatian Nazareth

 On Sunday night, after a hectic schedule of visits, John Paul II visited the shrine of Our Lady of Trsat, Queen of the Adriatic, also known as the 'Croatian Nazareth.' Administered by the Order of Friars Minor, the shrine was erected in the 15th century on the site where, according to tradition, the Holy House of Nazareth arrived miraculously in 1291 and remained until 1294 when it was transported to Loreto, Italy. Prince Nikola I of Krk had had a chapel erected on the spot on Trsat, 135 meters above sea level, where the Holy House had been for three years, and this soon became the focal point of pilgrimages. In 1367, as compensation to Croatian pilgrims for the shrine's transfer to Loreto, Pope Urban V donated to them the miraculous effigy of the Mother of God, also known as Mother of Mercy, protector of seamen. The shrine, rebuilt many times over the years, is reached via a flight of 561 steps. Two of the shrine's focal points are the chapel of votive gifts built in 1966 and, in the monastery cloister, a series of 32 paintings depicting the life of Mary. During his visit the Pope, in off-the-cuff remarks, announced that he had donated a gold rosary to the shrine and said: "As a vow to Our Lady of Trsat, in the name of the communion lived during the Rosary, pray for me during my life and after my death." Pope John Paul concluded his five-day visit to Croatia yesterday in the coastal town of Zadar where he received a got a spirited send-off yesterday from more than 100,000 euphoric pilgrims who chanted, "You are ours and we are yours!" For full details of the Pope's trip, visit the official Croatian site at www.pope.hr/ or go to the Vatican website which is listed in the Links pages. Source: VIS

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