On Saturday, 7th September 2013, in excess of 100,000 people joined Pope Francis for a Vigil of prayer for Peace in St Peter’s Square from 7:00 pm until 11:00 pm. Pope Francis had called for a day of prayer and fasting amid growing tensions in the Middle East surrounding the events in Syria.
The Pope greeted the crowd and the ‘Veni Creator Spiritus’ was sung, followed by the Lourdes hymn as four Swiss Guards carried the Icon of Our Lady, Health of the Roman People, from the obelisk in the centre of the square to the sanctuary. The Rosary was prayed with readings from the poetry of St Therese of the Child Jesus.
Reflecting upon the anthropology of the human person, Pope Francis reminded those present that in the account of Creation that all is fundamentally good in God sight. Thus in the heart and mind of God, creation is the “house of harmony and peace”, but above all humanity, made in the image and likeness of God, is one family, in which relationships are marked by a true fraternity not only in words: we are all brothers and sisters called to be true examples of harmony. The Holy Father said war occurs when man, the summit of creation, stops contemplating beauty and goodness, and withdraws into his own selfishness. Then recounting the words of Pope Paul VI to the United Nations he said “No more one against the other, no more, never! … war never again, never again war!”
The Vigil continued with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. A passage from St John’s Gospel was read (20:19-29) in which the risen Jesus appears to his disciples and greets them with the words ‘Peace be with you’. After a period of silent prayer and music the Holy Father gave Benediction concluding the day of prayer and fasting.
Vatican Television (CTV) has made the Vigil available to view (4 hours) and can be seen below.
The full text of the Holy Father’s reflection can also be found here.