.- Christians and Muslims will come together for a prayer vigil on Sept. 12 to invoke the protection of God and the Virgin Mary over Pope Benedict XVI's upcoming visit to the country this week.
Vatican-based Fides News Agency reported that four processions of young people will converge upon the “Garden of Mary” in Beirut's Museum Square on Wednesday.
At 8 p.m. local time the vigil will begin, with Christian and Muslim readings and prayer asking God to bless the Sept. 14-16 papal visit.
The Secretary of the Commission of the Lebanese Bishops' Conference for Dialogue with Islam, Father Antoine Daou, told Fides that the title of the initiative is “Together in peace, love, freedom and security.”
“It will be a national and popular holiday, to show to the world that Lebanon can be in this moment in history the Country of coexistence between Christians and Muslims,” he noted.
Representatives and leaders from all the religious communities in Lebanon, as well as thousands of the faithful, are expected to participate in the vigil.
A number of organizations devoted to Christian-Muslim dialogue are promoting the event, including the group “Together Around Mary,” which in recent years has organized joint Muslim-Christian celebrations on the feast of the Annunciation.
Since 2012, the Annunciation has been a national holiday in Lebanon to help promote better relations between the members of the two faiths.
Fr. Daou said the processions are among numerous events taking place in dioceses across Lebanon in preparation for the Pope’s visit.
“All the Lebanese, all the political and religious leaders – including the Hezbollah, Druze, Sunni political leaders – are waiting for the Pope's visit as a grace for Lebanon, which can favor a moment of true national unity, beyond division, and show the whole Middle East world that Lebanon can be a model of coexistence,” the priest said.