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Pope’s peace vigil for Syria expected to be biggest in decades



September 06, 2013 - A five-hour prayer vigil on Saturday in Rome’s St. Peter's Square for peace in Syria, initiated by Pope Francis, will be the largest the Vatican has seen in years, according to the Holy See’s spokesman. “I’ve been here for 23 years and I remember gatherings for peace in Assisi, but I don’t remember anything with this dimension in Saint Peter’s Square,” Fr. Federico Lombardi told reporters on Thursday. Pope Francis on Sunday made a global appeal asking that everyone, regardless of religion or location, to fast and pray on Sept. 7 for world peace, particularly in Syria. He repeated the call at his weekly general audience on Wednesday. Pope Francis' prayer vigil, scheduled from 7 pm until midnight, will be preceded by the hearing of Confessions at 5.45 pm in St. Peter's Square. There will be 50 priests available for Confession under the colonnades of the square. The Vatican said Pope Francis wanted confessors at the prayer meet considering the fact that true peace is born in the heart of man who is reconciled to God and to his brothers and sisters. The Pope’s call for prayer and fasting comes as nations, including the United States, discuss the possibility of military intervention in Syria, following reports that the Bashar al Assad regime used chemical weapons on its own civilians, killing, according to the U.S. government, more than 1,400 persons.
The Vatican has issued a schedule of prayer meeting in the Vatican. At 6:30 pm, Pope Francis' Sept. 1 appeal calling for the day of fasting and prayer will be read to introduce the vigil. The Holy Father himself will initiate the prayer at 7 pm, and the hymn, “Veni Creator Spiritus”, will be sung. Four Swiss Guards will carry a statue of Mary, Protectress of the Roman People, starting from the obelisk in the square, accompanied by two girls strewing flowers before her. The Roman Pontiff will then intone the rosary prayer, invoking the intercession at each mystery of Our Lady, Queen of Peace. There will then be a meditation preached by the Pope, followed by a minute of silence and Eucharistic Adoration.
The vigil will also include readings from the Bible, and responsorial prayers for peace. After Adoration, there will be three minutes of silence followed by the recitation of the Office of Readings, part of the Liturgy of the Hours. At 10:15 there will be a period of extended, prayerful silence, and the vigil will conclude later with Benediction. In solidarity with the vigil of the Diocese of Rome as well as many Churches and communities worldwide will be holding similar events.




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