Card Sako: Baghdad to join Pope in reciting rosary for peace in Ukraine
Baghdad’s Syro-Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Salvation is among the churches that will join the pontiff in today’s Marian prayer. Card Sako calls for quick action before a “third world war” breaks out. In St Mary Major, a Syrian family will recite some intentions; groups of refugees will be present. Marian shrines in Syria, Bahrain, the Philippines and Korea will link up with Rome.
Baghdad (AsiaNews) – People in Baghdad, as in Rome and in other basilicas around the world, are set to pray for peace today, the last day of the Marian month. Christians around the world will heed Pope Francis’s appeal and join him.
At 6 pm (Rome time), the pontiff will start reciting the rosary in Rome’s Basilica of St Mary Major (Santa Maria Maggiore) in front of the statue of Maria Regina Pacis.
The Syro-Catholic Cathedral Sayedat al-Najat or Our Lady of Salvation (pictured), in Baghdad’s Karrada district, is one of the Marian shrines that will link up with Rome.
Chosen from one of the countries affected by wars and violence today as in the past, it is highly symbolic: on 31 October 2010, it saw one of bloodiest massacres involving Christians in the Mideast. A group of terrorists, a local cell linked to al-Qaeda, stormed the building, taking the faithful hostage. The gunfight with Iraqi special forces when they tried to free the building left 58 people dead, including two priests who were celebrating Mass at the altar.
Speaking to AsiaNews, Chaldean Patriarch Card Louis Raphael Sako, who recently returned from a pastoral visit to Germany, stressed the importance of this moment of prayer "in which we too will participate with conviction.”
“The chosen place, the Syrian-Catholic church, was the scene of the massacre” in October 2010; as such it is “a symbolic place, an open wound for Iraq and the entire Middle East,” he explained. “It is a martyr church!”
Gathering to pray “is fundamental so that Russia and Ukraine, two Christian nations, might find the way to peace”. With respect to this, Iraqis are on their side since they too experienced “war, destruction, exodus and migration, firsthand.”
“As the Chaldean patriarchate, we immediately expressed our solidarity to the archbishop (of Kyiv). Action for peace is needed, quickly; otherwise, this conflict will drag on and could turn into World War III. The economic impact, on prices and raw materials, even food, is already clearly visible for all of us.”
As he did during the first weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pope Francis renewed his prayer to Our Lady that she may bring peace and consolation to victims all over the world. He will pray the rosary before Maria Regina Pacis with a special intention for the end of the conflict in Ukraine.
On its website, the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation notes that in the basilica, “The Madonna is depicted with her left arm raised as a sign to order the end of the war, while with her right she holds the Baby Jesus, ready to drop the olive branch symbolising peace.
“Flowers are sculpted on the base, symbolising the blossoming of life with the return of peace. It is traditional for the faithful to lay small handwritten notes with prayer intentions at the feet of the Virgin.
“The Pope will lay a wreath of flowers at the feet of the image before addressing his prayer to Our Lady and leaving his particular intention.”
Various families, from the Ukraine, Syria and Venezuela will recite about 10 intentions, in addition to groups of refugees representing those who suffer in the world from conflicts and injustices and who, for this reason, have had to abandon their home and land.
The prayer will be broadcast by the Holy See’s official media. Linkups will include Marian shrines around the world with prayers performed simultaneously with the pontiff in accordance with his intentions.
The list of shrines includes: Mother of God (Zarvanytsia) in Ukraine, Sayidat al-Najat (Our Lady of Salvation) in Iraq, Our Lady of Peace Cathedral in Syria, and the Cathedral of Mary Queen of Arabia in Bahrain.
Others are: Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage in Antipolo (Philippines), the International Shrine of Jesus Saviour and Mother Mary, the Shrine of Jasna Góra, the international Shrine of the Korean Martyrs, Holy House of Loreto, Blessed Virgin of the Holy Rosary, International Shrine Our Lady of Knock, Blessed Virgin of the Rosary, Our Lady Queen of Peace, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Our Lady of Lourdes.