Rome: ‘Together – Gathering of the People of God’, a day of prayer and reflection
Young Christians from all over the world gather in Rome for ecumenical prayer vigil
Next 30 September will be a day of deep spiritual resonance and ecumenism. Pope Francis, together with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, and other Church leaders will gather in St. Peter’s Square to pray in anticipation of the assembly that will begin on 4 October. Organised by the Taizé Community in collaboration with the Vatican Dicasteries and the Vicariate of Rome, the event, entitled “Together – Gathering of the People of God”, aims to bring together thousands of young people from Europe, the United States, Africa and Asia.
A collective invocation to the Holy Spirit
The presence of around 3,000 people in Rome for the pre-synodal vigil, which serves as a prelude to synodality, is seeing the participation of more than 80 parishes and religious communities from the Capitoline diocese, a display of faith and unity that is already evident before the event. Pope Francis wants this to be a moment of ecumenism and reflection, a celebration of Christian unity in the profound sense of the term.
The event will start at 5pm with a celebration of gratitude that will explore the gift of unity, the synodal journey, the gift of the other, peace and Creation. This will be a time of collective introspection, a time to appreciate the gifts imparted, and to prepare the spiritual ground for the vigil that will follow.
With the Pope’s arrival in the square at 6pm, a new page of ecumenical dialogue will be opened. The joint prayer with the Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby symbolises not only Christian fraternity, but a step towards a deeper interdenominational dialogue. The message is clear: ecumenical dialogue is a path to deeper understanding and cooperation between different Christian denominations.
International participation to interconnect the global Christian community
The organisers estimated a significant turnout, particularly from Poland, France, Spain, Hungary, and also from nations such as Egypt, Vietnam, Korea, the United States and, of course, Italy. This ecumenical gathering is not just an isolated event in Rome, but the epicentre of over 200 similar initiatives around the world, manifesting a common aspiration for unity and reflection.
The events surrounding the Presynodal Vigil will also provide young people aged 18-35 with opportunities for engagement through workshops, meetings, and roundtables. Topics such as listening to the experiences of refugees, learning from other denominations and religions, visiting city missions with marginalised people, and concern for Creation will be at the centre of the agenda, providing a platform for meaningful dialogue and deep reflection.
The concept of the pre-synodal vigil was conceived in October 2021, when Brother Alois, prior of Taizé, was invited to speak at the opening of the Catholic Church’s synodal process. Since then, the project has grown, incorporating a multiplicity of ecclesial partners and promoting a synodal practice that embodies the essence of community and unity.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, eloquently summed up the essence of the event by saying, “We should not underestimate the impact we can have as Christians on the rest of the world, because it is an impact given by the Holy Spirit.” This Ecumenical Prayer Vigil is, without a doubt, a powerful symbol of that unity and a step towards a more understanding and collaborative world.