Last Sunday (29 May), Pope Francis invited the faithful across the globe to join him in praying the Rosary on the last day of the Marian month of May, as wars continue to afflict humanity with death, suffering and destruction.

The prayer vigil, which took place in the Papal Basilica of St. Mary Major, included the participation of people affected or displaced by war, of migrants and refugees.

There was a Ukrainian family, representing all the families experiencing the violence and abuse of war; military chaplains, for those who bring hope and comfort to afflicted populations; a male and a female volunteer, for all those who continue to carry out their service on behalf of others even in situations of great danger and precariousness; a Syrian family and a Venezuelan family, representing the many people who continue to suffer unjustly as a result of conflict; some refugees, giving a face and a voice to the millions who have been forced to leave their homes and have found welcomed in other countries as they try are to rebuild their lives.

“O Mary, Mother of God and Queen of Peace, during the pandemic we gathered around You to ask for Your intercession,” the Pope prayed.

He recalled that prayer in which Christians asked for support for the sick and for strength for medical staff, implored mercy for the dying and consolation for those who suffered in silence and loneliness.

“This evening, at the end of the month especially consecrated to You, here we are again before You, Queen of Peace, to beseech You: grant the great gift of peace, bring a quick end to war which has been raging for decades now in various parts of the world, and which has now invaded the European continent as well.”

Noting that we are aware that peace cannot be the result of negotiations alone nor a consequence of political agreements alone, but is above all an Easter gift of the Holy Spirit, the Pope recalled the consecration of the warring nations to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, asking for the great gift of the conversion of hearts.

“We are confident that with the weapons of prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and the gift of your grace, the hearts of men and the fortunes of the whole world can be changed.”

He prayed for “for the victims of war, especially for the most helpless: children, the elderly, the sick. We pray for the torn families; for the fathers and mothers waiting for the return of their children and for the children waiting for the return of their fathers and mothers from the battlefields.”

The Holy Father referred to those who bring hope and comfort to war-stricken people as “instruments of mercy” and prayed that they will continue their good works. “Let us pray for priests, consecrated persons and all those who bring the word of hope and the comfort of faith to war-stricken peoples. That they may always be instruments of mercy.”