Pope Francis Becomes a Member of Hajduk!

Daniela Rogulj

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“Only God and Hajduk live forever” goes one of the most famous sayings about the beloved Split football club. Thus, it would only make sense that the one closest to God became Hajduk’s newest member.

You might recall that back in October 2017, the president of the Primošten Volunteer Fire Department, Josip Jadrijević, and Mayor of Primošten, Stipe Petrina, were part of a private audience lucky enough to meet Pope Francis at St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City, 

The young firefighter, who also helped fight the wildfires in Dalmatia that summer, gifted the Pope something original – a Hajduk jersey and a helmet from the fire department engraved with the name Pope Francis. 

Mayor Stipe Petrina took advantage of the sacred opportunity as well and gifted the Pope an image of the Virgin Mary made of Primošten lace that was crafted over three months, and a cap made from lace by designer Dina Kolar. The Hajduk jersey, without a name, was given by the club’s management for this occasion. 

“He laughed from the heart. He was really interested in what the club was doing. I deliberately handed over a folded jersey, and the Pope opened it, inspected it, and then looked at the coat of arms and asked me about Hajduk. I told him they are the champion of Dalmatia. And then he asked me how they played, to which I replied that they might be better off with God’s help. He surprised me with a prompt, warm reply: Then we will pray,” Jadrijević said then about how the Pope received the gifts. 

Jadrijević admitted after the meeting that he was so nervous about meeting the Pope he was sorry he couldn’t tell him how much Hajduk truly is religion in Dalmatia. 

“I’m sorry that I did not tell him that by us, we say ‘Only God and Hajduk live forever.’ But I believe that there will be more opportunities in life.” Lucky for Jadrijević, there was. 

Namely, the young Primošten firefighter managed to meet Pope Francis for the second time in two years, and on May 1 handed him a special gift – a Hajduk Membership Card, reports Dnevnik.hr on May 3, 2019.

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“The Pope was pleased, the pope was happy, and I said, ‘I have the honor of giving this to you’, and he said to me, ‘I have the honor of receiving it.’ I am thrilled and I hope that all of Torcida will be because now there is definitely one advocate who will be with them,” Jadrijević said.

“This is just another indication of what people are willing to do from their love of Hajduk,” said Hajduk coach Siniša Oreščanin.

Jadrijević handed the Pope a photograph of the statue of Our Lady of Loreto and hopes for a third meeting with the Pope, but in Croatia.

“I said to him, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to see this?’ He laughed and said, ‘Why not? Everything is possible,’” Jadrijević said.

While the current season is one of the worst in the history of Hajduk, it has not affected the number of club members. Pope Francis is just one of the 24,000 fans today.

Pope Francis was also introduced to Hajduk back in September 2016, when he was gifted a “Hajduk Lives Forever” scarf at St. Peter’s Square. You can read the story here

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