During his second trip to Croatia, Pope John Paul II visited not only Zagreb, Marija Bistrica and Split, but also Solin. On 4 October 1998, he held a youth gathering in a place known as Gospin otok, the oldest Marian shrine in Croatia.
This was certainly the most celebrated event in the history of Solin ever since the times when the Queen Jelena walked around Gospin otok. It took place before some fifty thousand young people who travelled from all over Croatia to the town situated by the Jadro River. They came to hear the clear message of the Holy Father: "Nurture the treasure of faith that history has given to you!".
Pope John Paul II spoke to us in Croatian, prayed Our Father in Croatian and sang with the youth the famous Croatian hymn: "Zdravo Djevo, kraljice Hrvata".
Pope John Paul II's message to young people
"I still have one final thing to say, but it is perhaps the most important. It is directed towards you, my dear youth. It is brief, but essential. Here it is: Jesus Christ is "the Way, the Truth and the Life" (cf. John 14:6). He will not let anyone down and is the best friend of young people. Let Him take hold of you (cf. Philippians 3:12) so that you can become leaders in this great and wondrous adventure, closely bound by love towards God and towards your neighbour (cf. Matthew 22, 37-40). The future is in your hands: your future and the future of the Church and your country. Soon you will be facing great responsibilities. You will be able to fulfil your mission if you prepare for it now, with the help of your family, the Church and educational institutions.
Find your place within the Church and in society, accepting wholeheartedly the tasks that are assigned to you now, both within your family and outside of it. This is the most appropriate way to prepare for the tasks that tomorrow will bring. Always remember that if you attempt to design your life in a manner that contradicts God's intention, you are destined to fail, sooner or later. It is only with God and in God that a person can reach the fulfilment that they crave from the bottom of their heart.
One of your poets wrote: "Felix, qui semper vitae bene computat usum", or "Lucky is the one who always ponders how to put his life to good use" (Marko Marulić, Carmen de doctrina Domini nostri Iesu Christi pendentis in Cruce, v. 77). A decisive role is played by the choice of correct over illusionary values; choosing the real truth instead of half-truths, or perhaps even false truths. Do not trust those who promise to give you easy solutions. Nothing great can be achieved without sacrifice."
John Paul II bade farewell to Solin with the following words:
"The moment has come for us to part. I speak to you for the last time, especially you, the citizens of Solin: be proud of the treasure of faith, which has been given to you by your history. Look after it with passion.
I would like to say goodbye to you by reminding you of the words of the Blessed Aloysius Stepinac: "You will not be worthy of the names of your fathers, if you let anyone rip you from the cave upon which Christ built His Church." (Testament, 1957).
I place you all in the hands of Mary, the Mother of the Word, who was embodied for our salvation. May the Lady of Gospin otok watch over you, your families and your country from this ancient Croatian shrine. May She accompany you in witnessing the now approaching new millennium for Christ.
Good bless you all!
Praised be Jesus and Mary!"