Croatia to Mark 1,700th Anniversary of a Diocese

Archdiocese of Split-Makarska Preparing With a Novena

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SPLIT, Croatia, APRIL 29, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The Croatian Archdiocese of Split-Makarska, one of the oldest in the world, will prepare for its 1,700th anniversary with a novena.



Events to mark the anniversary culminate on May 7, the day of the archdiocese's patron, St. Domnio, bishop of ancient Salonika and martyr.

The papal delegate to the event, Cardinal Jan Pieter Schotte, secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops, will preside at the Mass, which will be concelebrated with five other cardinals and 25 prelates. Numerous political representatives will attend, as well as faithful from all parts of this Balkan country and abroad.

Celebrations began Wednesday with a Mass in St. Domnio Cathedral, at which Bishop Ratko Peric of Mostar-Duvno officiated. Cultural events have also been organized, including concerts and exhibitions.

Relics of St. Domnio, kept in the cathedral, will be exposed for veneration May 6. The cathedral was erected on the site of the ancient mausoleum of Emperor Diocletian, built between the third and fourth centuries.

In the center of the present city of Split, which includes the ancient episcopal see of Salonika, is Diocletian's palace as well as his mausoleum. He was one of the cruelest persecutors of Christians.

John Paul II, who has visited Croatia on three occasions, said, "Here, history was not silent," when he entered the cathedral on Oct. 4, 1998.

"History continues not to be silent," Archbishop Marin Barisic added recently. The archbishop, who is the present occupant of the chair of St. Domnio, said that this is also attested "by the massive participation of the faithful in the preparations for the celebrations," Vatican Radio reported.

The Archdiocese of Split-Makarska has 410,000 Catholics, served by 204 diocesan priests, 165 religious priests, 24 major seminarians, 190 other men religious and 517 women religious.