4,500 Symbolic Meters for Peace in Loreto

Sports and Prayer Included in International Congress

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LORETO, Italy, AUG. 31, 2004 (Zenit.org).- In a symbolic gesture to promote peace, 45,000 people will run in the “100 Meters for Peace” race in Loreto on Thursday.

The distance between Loreto, Bethlehem and Baghdad totals 4,500 kilometers (2,800 miles), and 100 meters (.06 miles) multiplied by 45,000 equals the distance separating the three cities. The race will take place in front of the Marian shrine of Loreto and intends to send a message of peace and be emblematic of uniting the three populations.

The race is one of the events on the program of Catholic Action’s pilgrimage, which will culminate with John Paul II’s presence in Loreto on Sept. 5.

The race is a continuation of the Jerusalem-to-Bethlehem Peace Marathon organized principally by the conference of Italian bishops in April.

«The idea is to take an intense message of peace to the whole world,» said the organizers.

The race, which will be organized in the square in front of the Loreto Shrine, will take place on four streets.

For 60 hours, young people, adults, the disabled, athletes, personalities of the music world and politics and ecclesial representatives, including several bishops, will alternate in running in the race.

The initiative, which will include moments of prayer and contemplation, is sponsored by the Italian episcopal conference and the Italian Sports Center.

The «100 Meters for Peace» will include daily time for prayer, specifically for the Eastern rite Marian «Akathistos» prayer, as well as prayers and Eucharistic adoration.

The race will begin this Thursday and end on Sunday. The participants will be given a pectoral with their number on it, and will receive a symbol of peace upon finishing.

At the same time, there will be a collection for two peace projects. One will be a sports event in Ain Arik, Palestine, and the other «A House for Iraq,» as a sign of solidarity with that country.

Those wishing to participate may write to the following e-mail address: promozione.sviluppo@csi-net.it.

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