VATICAN CITY, DEC. 18, 2001 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II and leaders of world religions will travel by train to Assisi on Jan. 24 to take part in the day of prayer for peace, sources revealed today.
In the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Pope invited religious leaders around the world to participate in a meeting “to pray to overcome clashes and promote authentic peace.”
The participants will take the train in the Vatican, which has a small station built in 1933 by Pius XI. The train will have only three or four compartments to accommodate the religious leaders accompanying the Holy Father.
Upon arrival in Assisi, the Pope and his guests will attend a ceremony in the morning, during which they will hear testimonies of peace. The religious leaders will then go to various places in St. Francis´ city to pray, each one according to his custom.
To avoid any suggestion of syncretism, the Holy See is emphasizing that this will not be a meeting for joint prayer.
The participants will meet again in front of the basilica in the early afternoon to confirm together their commitment to peace. They will all return to the Vatican in the afternoon.
John Paul II is not the first Pope to travel to Assisi by train. John XXIII made the trip in 1962 to fulfill a historic pilgrimage. The train had to stop at virtually all the stations, where thousands of faithful awaited his blessing.