- historical event:
- At the initiative of Pope St. John Paul II, the first common prayer of all major world religions was held in St. Francis's birthplace. It was an ecumenical meeting of the highest importance, and the gathered representatives prayed for peace in the world.
At the initiative of Pope St. John Paul II, the first common prayer of world religions was held in the Italian town of Assisi, on this very day in 1986. That central Italian town, in the province of Umbria, is known as the birthplace of St. Francis of Assisi. It was there that the representatives of 12 world religions gathered to offer a collective prayer. It was an ecumenical meeting of the highest importance, and the gathered people prayed for peace in the world.
Among the 12 world religions, all Christians were represented as a single whole. The other religions included: Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, Zoroastrianism, Sikhism, Jainism, the Baha’i Faith, Rissho Kosei Kai, and the traditional religions of Africa and America (represented collectively). Altogether there were 63 representatives of these religions.
The pope personally greeted all the invited representatives. All of them gathered in basilica built around the Porziuncola, a small church of great importance for the life of St. Francis. Pope Saint John Paul II used the same kind of seat as everyone else. The Dalai Lama was seated immediately on the pope’s left, while Sheik Mohammad Nasir al-Abudi from Saudi Arabia, the representative of Islam, sat next to him. On the pope’s right was the Metropolitan Methodius as the representative of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, while the Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie sat next to him, as the highest-ranking representative of the Anglican Church.
John Paul II concluded his speech by thanking God with the following words: “I thank God, Father of Jesus Christ, for this day of grace for the world, for every one of you, and for myself. I do this in the words attributed to St. Francis: My Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.”