Assisi, Italy, Oct 27, 2011 / 12:30 pm
Over 300 delegates from 50 countries gathered today in Assisi to commit themselves to global peace, but, as expected, they did not pray together.
The papal-led party set off early this morning on a chartered train from the Vatican’s seldom used train station. Along the 125 mile route, the engines three times slowed down to 10 miles per hour to allow the local people in the towns of Terni, Spoleto and Foligno to cheer the Pope as he passed by. Upon arrival in Assisi, the Pope was met by cheering crowds who waved a welcome banner written in German.
Today’s summit, entitled “Pilgrims of Truth, Pilgrims of Peace,” was convened to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the first World Day for Peace, begun by Pope John Paul II in 1986.
The delegates first gathered in the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels, where they were welcomed by Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
“The experience of these 25 years invites us even more intensely and with a great sense of urgency,” said the Cardinal Turkson, “to re-commit ourselves today, with the gift of reason and the gifts of faith, to become more and more pilgrims of truth and make our world a place of greater and greater peace.”
His address was followed by a short film recalling the events of the inaugural Assisi gathering in 1986. Most of the pilgrims watched the movie on large television screens outside the basilica.