Children around the world are being asked to pray for peace in countries devastated by war, violence or crippling poverty.
The call comes as part of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN)’s “A Million Children Praying the Rosary” initiative, which asks young people in parishes, kindergartens, schools and families to come together in prayer every 18th October.
ACN’s ecclesiastical assistant Father Martin Barta said: “Some of the most positive reactions we had come precisely from the regions where peace is most necessary.
“It is especially moving to know that there are children in Iraq, Syria, Belarus, or Myanmar praying along with those who gather in Fátima, Portugal, or in Canada, or the USA.
“It gives us hope that the love that comes from faith can triumph over violence.”
A message from ACN’s international president Cardinal Mauro Piacenza and Fr Barta – released ahead of the day of prayer – stressed that ACN wanted to put countries where there is no peace into the hands of God the Father, through the intercession of St Mary.
The message read: “[L]et us especially entrust to the powerful and loving hands of the divine Father and the mighty intercession of the Mother of God those countries where war, violence and deep poverty prevail – as in Ukraine, the Middle East, Nigeria, the Sahel region of Africa and all those places where people are unable to live in peace.”
The prayer campaign particularly encourages young people to trust in God during difficult times, and the 2022 campaign poster shows a pair of hands supporting the globe.
The hands symbolise those of God the Father, who created the world in love and desires that everyone should be saved.
According to the message from Cardinal Piacenza and Fr Barta: “We all need this living hope that the Father holds all things in his hand.”
Now in its seventeenth year, “A Million Children Praying the Rosary” began in Venezuela’s capital Caracas in 2005, when a group of children came together to pray.
ACN started supporting the campaign in 2008 and began running it in 2018.
In October 2020, Pope Francis gave his backing to the prayer initiative during one of his Angelus messages, saying: “I encourage this beautiful event that involves children throughout the world.”