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John Paul II's 3rd Apostolic Voyage to Slovakia

11th - 14th September 2003

Saint John Paul II was a pilgrim to Slovakia for the third time in 2003 (having also visited in 1990 & 1995), visiting Banská Bystrica and Bratislava, beatifying the Slovak martyrs Basile Hopko and Zdenka Schelingová.

Saint John Paul II's Speech at the Welcome Ceremony
Thursday, 11 September 2003 - in English, German, Italian, Portuguese & Slovak

"I give thanks to the Lord for allowing me to set foot today on the beloved Slovakian soil for the third time. I come as a pilgrim of the Gospel to bring greetings of peace and hope to all. .. I extend a cordial greeting in the Lord to all the men and women who live, work, suffer and hope in this Land of Slovakia, and I invoke upon each and every one of you the very special blessings of the Most High God.

The civil and religious history of Slovakia has been written with the contribution of heroic and dynamic witnesses of the Gospel. My wish is to pay grateful tribute to them all. I am thinking of course of the glorious brothers from Thessalonika, Saints Cyril and Methodius, the Apostles of the Slavic peoples. I also remember all who generously served God and their fellow men and women, who have distinguished these regions with their virtues. To these we now add Bishop Vasil’ Hopko and Sister Zdenka Schelingová. Next Sunday I will have the joy of enrolling them among the Blessed. All of them have left behind a rich harvest of good in the Slovakian cultural heritage. The history of this Land indeed can be seen as a history of faithfulness to Christ and to his Church.

In the near future your country will become a full member of the European Community. Dearly beloved, bring to the construction of Europe’s new identity the contribution of your rich Christian tradition! Do not be satisfied with the sole quest for economic advantages. Great affluence in fact can also generate great poverty. Only by building up, not without sacrifices and difficulties, a society respectful of human life in all its expressions, that promotes the family as a place of reciprocal love and growth of persons, that seeks the common good and is attentive to the needs of the weakest, will there be guarantees of a future based on solid foundations and rich in goods for all.

In the days to come my pilgrimage will lead me to the Dioceses of Bratislava-Trnava, Banská Bystrica and Rožňava. But my desire at this moment is to embrace - at least in spirit - all the sons and daughters of Slovakia, together with the representatives of national minorities and of other religions. I would like to be able to meet and speak with each and every one of you, to call on every family, to visit your beautiful land, and to meet all the ecclesial communities of this beloved Nation. Please know that the Pope is thinking of each one of you and is praying for you all.

May God bless Slovakia and give you all peace, prosperity and harmony based on fraternity and mutual understanding."

Pope John Paul II's homily at the beatification of the Martyrs Basile Hopko & Zdenka Schelingová

Feast of the Holy Cross, 14 September 2003 - Petržalka Square, Bratislava - in English, German, Italian, Portuguese & Slovak

1. O Crux, ave spes unica! Hail, O Cross, our only hope!

During the celebration of this Sunday liturgy, dear brothers and sisters, we are invited to look upon the Cross. It is the “privileged place” where the love of God is revealed and shown to us. Bishop Vasil’ Hopko and Sister Zdenka Schelingová, whom I have had the joy of enrolling today among the Blessed, looked upon the Cross with invincible faith.

On the Cross human misery and divine mercy meet. The adoration of this unlimited mercy is for man the only way to open himself to the mystery which the Cross reveals.

The Cross is planted in the earth and would seem to extend its roots in human malice, but it reaches up, pointing as it were to the heavens, pointing to the goodness of God. By means of the Cross of Christ, the Evil One has been defeated, death is overcome, life is given to us, hope is restored, light is imparted. O Crux, ave spes unica!

2. In the name of the crucified and risen Lord, I greet affectionately all of you gathered here on the esplanade of Petržalka. .. With warm affection I greet you, beloved Slovak people here present or listening by radio or television. I thank God because you have been able to safeguard, even in difficult times, your fidelity to Christ and to his Church. And I exhort you: never be ashamed of the Gospel! Guard it in your heart as the most precious treasure, from which you may draw light and strength in the everyday pilgrimage of life.

3. “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life” (Jn 3:14-15), says Jesus. What do we see then when we bring our eyes to bear on the cross where Jesus was nailed? We contemplate the sign of God’s infinite love for humanity.

O Crux, ave spes unica! Saint Paul speaks of the same theme in the letter to the Ephesians which we have just heard. Not only did Christ Jesus become man, in everything similar to human beings, but he took on the condition of a servant and humbled himself even more by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Yes, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (Jn 3:16). We admire – overwhelmed and gratified – the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ which surpasses all knowledge! O Crux, ave spes unica!

4. Certainly, it was meditation on this great and wonderful mystery that sustained Blessed Bishop Vasil’ Hopko and Blessed Sister Zdenka Schelingová in their choice of the consecrated life and especially in the sufferings endured during their terrible imprisonment.

Both shine before us as radiant examples of faithfulness in times of harsh and ruthless religious persecution. Bishop Vasil’ never repudiated his attachment to the Catholic Church and to the Pope. Sister Zdenka did not hesitate to risk her life so as to assist God’s ministers.

Both faced up to an unjust trial and an ignoble condemnation, to torture, humiliation, solitude, death. And so the Cross became for them the way that led them to life, a source of fortitude and hope, a proof of love for God and man. O Crux, ave spes unica!

5. In the Garden of Eden, at the foot of the tree, there was a woman, Eve. Seduced by the Evil One, she takes possession of what she thinks is divine life. Instead it is a seed of death which enters into her.

On Calvary, at the foot of the tree of the cross, there was another woman, Mary. Accepting God’s plan, she shares intimately in the Son’s gift of self to the Father for the life of the world and, receiving from Jesus the entrustment of John the Apostle, she becomes the Mother of all mankind.

It is the Virgin most Sorrowful, whom we will remember tomorrow in the liturgy and whom you, with tender devotion, venerate as your Patroness. To her I entrust the present and the future of the Church and Nation of Slovakia, so that they will grow at the foot of the Cross of Christ, and will always know how to seek out and accept its message of love and salvation.

Through the mystery of your Cross and your resurrection, save us O Lord! Amen.

Blessed John Paul II's message at the Angelus

Sunday, 14th September 2003 - in English, German, Italian, Portuguese & Slovak

"Na záver tohto slávenia sa všetci chceme v mysli ešte raz postaviť pod Kristov kríž, a prijať od Neho, ako vzácny dar, jeho Matku, ktorá od tej chvíle je aj Matkou Cirkvi.

Podľa príkladu apoštola Jána, aj my si ju berieme k sebe (porov. Jn 19,27), aby sme sa od nej učili počúvaniu a obetavej skromnosti, vlastnostiam, ktorými sa vyznačovala ako prvá učeníčka Pána.

Spoločne s novými blahoslavenými prosme Pannu Máriu, aby, na jej príhovor, kresťanské spoločenstvo žijúce na Slovensku bolo bohaté na svätosť, odvážne v konaní dobra, a silné vo svedectve.

Szeretettel köszöntöm a magyar anyanyelvű híveket. Jézus Urunk, aki a kereszten életét adta mindenkiért, árasszon el Titeket kegyelmével és erősítsen Benneteket Lelke ajándékaival. Apostoli áldásommal. (Slovakian)

Szeretettel köszöntöm a magyar anyanyelvű híveket. Jézus Urunk, aki a kereszten életét adta mindenkiért, árasszon el Titeket kegyelmével és erősítsen Benneteket Lelke ajándékaival. Apostoli áldásommal. (Hungarian)

Einen herzlichen Gruß richte ich an die Gläubigen deutscher Sprache und besonders an die Pilger aus Österreich. Mögen die Freude und der Friede als Früchte des Heiligen Geistes (vgl. Gal 5, 22) eure Herzen erfüllen! (German)

Слава Ісусу Христу! Звертаючись до вас, що прибули з України, згадую мої Апостольські відвідини Вашої прекрасної землі та бажаю усім вам Божого миру, що перевищує всяке уявлення (пор Фил 4,7). Уділяю усім моє Апостольське Благословення. (Ukrainian)

Věřící z České republiky svěřuji přímluvě svatých Cyrila a Metoděje, uctívaných na Velehradě. Ujiš’uji je svoji modlitbou a ze srdce jim žehnám. (Czech)

W dniu Podwyższenia Krzyża Świętego w sposób szczególny przeżywamy miłość Chrystusa, który samego siebie złożył w Ofierze dla zbawienia świata. Niech doświadczenie tej miłości zawsze nam towarzyszy. Z serca Wam błogosławię. (Polish)

Agli italiani qui presenti il mio benedicente saluto. La Vergine Maria vi accompagni incontro a Gesù e vi faccia gustare la gioia e la fecondità della sua amicizia. (Italian)

Zajtra si uctíme Sedembolestnú, Patrónku vašej krajiny. Obráťme sa na ňu s dôverou modlitbou Anjel Pána. (Slovakian)"

After the Angelus:

"Before departing from you I wish to renew to all of you my heartfelt gratitude: to the Christian community of Slovakia and to its Pastors, to the President of the Republic and to the civil and military authorities, to the security personnel and to the press corps. To all those who in various ways have contributed to the success of my apostolic journey, I say with all my heart: "thank you!" I carry with me beautiful images of the Eucharistic Celebrations and the different encounters of these days. They are memories that evoke in my spirit profound and comforting emotions.

I wish to send from this esplanade a special greeting, full of affection, to the young people of Slovakia. Dear young friends, you are the hope of the Church and of society; you are the hope of the Pope! Do not be afraid to become true friends of Jesus. Learn from him how to love this world properly and you will build with his help the civilization of love.

I leave you all with the assurance of my thought and my prayers. And my recommendation: keep on being faithful to Christ and to his Church!

Vďaka ti, Slovensko! Všemohúci Boh nech ťa žehná a zachová vo svojej láske."