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Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregoire III Laham, left, joins church leaders and worshipers in a prayer service at the Melkite patriarchate Cathedral of the Dormition in Damascus, Syria, Sept. 7. (CNS photo/Khaled al Hariri, Reuters)

As tens of thousands joined Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square for the prayer vigil for peace in Syria on Saturday evening—and even more watched on TV or streaming online—a similar event took place in Damascus’ Cathedral of the Dormition. AsiaNews has a report on the event:

Interviewed by AsiaNews, Msgr. Mario Zenari, apostolic nuncio in Damascus, defines the Day of Prayer as an exceptional event that “has given a breath of encouragement and hope to the entire Syrian population, without distinction of creed, in these dark and uncertain days.” The prelate said that “Syrians were moved by the participation of the whole world in their suffering. Some Muslims asked me to thank the Pope for his gesture.”

A woman holds up a sign during a prayer service for peace in Damascus, Sept. 7. (CNS pho to/Khaled al Hariri, Reuters)

The prelate said that the vigils were held in all the parishes of the area of Damascus, in the internal dioceses and areas not under siege. Unfortunately there is no news from Aleppo, home to one of the most important Christian communities in Syria. According to the bishop, the city has been isolated for at least eight days because of fighting between rebels and the army. The most important celebrations took place in the Greek-Catholic cathedral of Damascus. The vigil, led by the Melkite Patriarch Gregory III, was attended by Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant and Muslim religious authorities, representatives of the government, parliament and thousands of people of all faiths. 

Syrian women light candles before attending a prayer service in Damascus. (CNS photo/Khaled al Hariri, Reuters)

“We prayed for peace throughout the country,” continues Msgr. Zenari. “Especially for Maaloula, a village that has been a symbol of Christianity and which was invaded on September 5 by the Syrian rebels.”

 

 

 
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Catherine Harmon is managing editor of Catholic World Report.
 
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