.- Thousands of university students gathered in Rome Friday evening to participate a Marian prayer vigil, marking the conclusion of this year’s Third European Day for Universities.
The theme for the festivities, a preparation for this summer’s World Youth Day was, "Intellectual and Scientific Research, a Way to Meet Christ." The prayer was presided by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general for the diocese of Rome.
During the celebration, satellite linkups connected university students in Bari, Madrid, Zagreb, Berlin, Lisbon, Kiev, Bucharest, Tirana and London to Rome.
From his hospital room in Rome's Gemelli Polyclinic, John Paul II spiritually joined the participants and sent them a message that was read by Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State.
In his message, the Pope wrote that, "Europe is ideally involved in this important moment of prayer and reflection, in preparation for the forthcoming World Youth Day, which will take place right in the heart of the continent, in Cologne."
The Holy Father referred to the theme of the European Day and wrote, "There is no contradiction between faith and reason, as is also shown by the experience of the Magi who arrived in Bethlehem using both these dimensions of the human spirit: intelligence that scrutinizes the signs, faith that leads to adoration of the mystery."
"Dear young people," John Paul continued, "always be animated by a longing to discover the truth of your existence. May faith and reason be the two wings that bear you to Christ, the truth of God and the truth of the human being.”
In Him you will find peace and happiness. May Christ be the center of all your lives. This is my sincere desire, which I express to you all from the heart, accompanying it with an assurance of my prayers."
The Holy Father closed his message wishing all the young people a "Happy Easter and a safe journey to Cologne."
Following the gathering, a procession of university students accompanied the Cross to the church of St Agnes in Piazza Navona.