Franciscan Friars in Assisi and throughout the world are joining Pope Francis’ call to pray for peace in Syria and the Middle East.

To do so, the Lower Church of the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi will exceptionally remain open from Tuesday to Friday until 10pm so that pilgrims and faithful can pray on the Tomb of St. Francis for peace in the Syrian nation, and for those who are called to make political decisions on the path to justice in the world.

And on Saturday September 7th, the day in which the Pope has on all men and women of goodwill to fast and to pray for peace, after their celebration of Vespers, the Assisi friars will gather at Santa Maria degli Angeli for a prayer vigil, called for by the Bishop of Assisi, Domenico Sorrentino, in communion with Pope Francis.

In is calling for this Vigil of Prayer, Pope Francis made a strong appeal for dialogue:

“May the plea for peace rise up and touch the heart of everyone so that they may lay down their weapons and be let themselves be led by the desire for peace.

To this end, brothers and sisters, I have decided to proclaim for the whole Church on 7 September next, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace, a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world, and I also invite each person, including our fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative.

On 7 September, in Saint Peter’s Square, here, from 19:00 until 24:00, we will gather in prayer and in a spirit of penance, invoking God’s great gift of peace upon the beloved nation of Syria and upon each situation of conflict and violence around the world. Humanity needs to see these gestures of peace and to hear words of hope and peace! I ask all the local churches, in addition to fasting, that they gather to pray for this intention.

Let us ask Mary to help us to respond to violence, to conflict and to war, with the power of dialogue, reconciliation and love. She is our mother: may she help us to find peace; all of us are her children! Help us, Mary, to overcome this most difficult moment and to dedicate ourselves each day to building in every situation an authentic culture of encounter and peace. Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us!”