VATICAN CITY. Carrying candles into an empty St. Peter’s Basilica, participants in the synod on synodality prayed the rosary for peace Oct. 25.
“During this synod, we have heard the cry of so many people who are victims, poor and oppressed by the tragedies unfolding in many of the countries we come from,” yet largely ignored by the rest of the world, said Sister Elysée Izerimana, a member of the Working Sisters of the Holy House of Nazareth from Burundi.
Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, archpriest of St. Peter’s, led the rosary, which took place at night after the basilica had closed to the public. The prayer originally had been scheduled for the Vatican Gardens but was moved because of a forecast of rain.
Reciting the glorious mysteries of the rosary, participants made their way in procession to the basilica’s Altar of the Chair where candles on the floor spelled “Pax,” Latin for peace.
The cardinal opened the service praying that the Lord would help leaders of nations and all people “rekindle the ability to listen and the desire to seek paths together” so all people could live in peace and justice.
Many of the prayers and reflections drew on the synod members’ experience of listening to one another over the previous three weeks and trying to find common ground or experiences that could enrich one another.
Giuseppina De Simone, a professor of theology at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome, told her fellow synod members, “We have experienced that it is indeed possible to look for ways forward together starting from different cultures and histories. We have been given the gift of living unity in diversity in Christ.”
“We are here this evening from many different countries, some of which have taken up arms against each other,” she said. “And through this Marian prayer together, we want to show that it is possible to respect each other, to meet and dialogue.”
Praying and walking together, she said, “we want to increasingly be bearers of life, hope and peace, especially for those who suffer and are experiencing the horror of violence that is devastating so many nations today.”
Eva Gullo, a lay synod member from Italy, prayed: “No more war, no more heinous and senseless violence! Enough with hatred that only fuels hatred and prevents one from seeing other paths! Enough with the logic of revenge at any cost for wrongs suffered! Enough of the growing inhumanity that turns a deaf ear to the pain and tears of children, the elderly, the disabled and those who cannot defend themselves.”
Pope Francis did not attend the prayer service but was scheduled to lead another rosary for peace Oct. 27 in the basilica.
The Bible passages, meditations and decades of the rosary were led by synod members, including Cardinal Louis Sako, the Iraq-based patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, and Cardinal Stephen Chow Sau-yan of Hong Kong.