This year marks the 30th anniversary of the First World Day of Prayer for Peace that St. John Paul convened back in 1986, an historic event which saw world leaders of different religions come together for the very first time to pray for peace. Over 450 religious leaders of different Faith gathered to pray for peace and strengthened dialogue in the spirit of Assisi.
In attendance from Nigeria was the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto; Most Rev. Dr. Matthew Kukah, Catholic ArchBishop of Abuja; John Cardinal Onaiyekan, Emir of Kano; Lamido Muhammad Sanusi and other clergymen.
The 3-day event organized by the Sant’Egidio Community entitled this year “Thirst for Peace. Religions and Cultures in Dialogue”.
From 4pm local time Prayers for Peace take place in different venues. The Ecumenical Prayer of Christians takes place in the Lower Basilica of St. Francis, after which all the participants are meeting with the Representatives of other religions who have prayed in different places before moving to the podium in the Square.
A closing ceremony takes place at 5.15pm in St. Francis Square with messages read by Pope Francis, by a victim of war, Patriarch Bartholomew I, a Muslim representative, a Jewish representative, Japanese Buddhist Patriarch and by Professor Andrea Riccardi, Founder of the Sant’Egidio Community.
A Letter appealing for peace is handed to children from various countries and all present observe a moment of silence for the victims of war. Then the signing of an Appeal for Peace,the lighting of two symbolic candles and the exchange of a sign of peace conclude the World Day of Prayer for Peace.