The day of fasting and prayer for the intention of peace in the Holy Land, called for by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem to take place on October 17, drew prayers from Catholic communities around the world. Catholics prayed as one for a peaceful resolution to hostilities and the protection of innocent lives caught in the crossfire.
Now, Pope Francis has called another day of fasting and prayer, for October 27, encouraging those of any religion or anyone with peace in their hearts, to join in as they see fit.
The hostilities began on October 7, when Hamas launched thousands of missiles into Israel and sent militants across the Israeli border in a brutal surprise attack. Israel answered the incursion with a show of military strength, promptly closing down and blockading the Gaza strip.
The escalating violence led the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, to call on all Catholics to join him in a day of fasting and prayer on October 17. The Cardinal who tends to Catholic flocks in both Israel and Palestine wrote in an open letter:
“Let us organize prayer times with Eucharistic adoration and with the recitation of the Rosary to Our Blessed Virgin Mary. This is the way we all come together despite everything, and unite collectively in prayer, to deliver to God the Father our thirst for peace, justice, and reconciliation.”
In Nazareth, the call was answered by the Custodia Terrae Sanctae, the Franciscan friars serving as custodians of the Holy Land, who organized a day of prayer at the Basilica of the Annunciation and Sanctuary of the Holy Family in Nazareth. Rector of the basilica Fr. Wojciech Bołoz noted that the public has not visited their Marian shrine – and parish church – since the war broke out, but the nine Franciscans who reside there continue to pray for peace:
“It is important for us to continue following all the times of the celebrations in the sanctuary: not only because it is our responsibility, as the friars of the Custody, to look after it, but above all because our mission is to be committed to praying for peace, especially at the moment.”
The Franciscans prayed throughout the day, recited the Holy Rosary, adored the Holy Eucharist, and celebrated Mass.
Meanwhile, in the Philippines, the Archdiocese of Manila encouraged all of their parishes to participate, writing:
“In solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land, we request that our parishes and communities gather our people for prayer like the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament/Holy Hour and the praying of the Rosary.”
Individual bishops and bishops’ conferences around the world led their flocks in joining in the prayer.
The US Catholic Bishops’ Conference was also quick to support Cardinal Pizzaballa’s plea, encouraging the faithful of America to fast and pray for those in peril. They wrote in a social media post: