ROME, JUNE 12, 2009 ( Benedict XVI has assured his spiritual closeness to the participants in the 31st march for peace from Macerata to Loreto.

The Pope expressed his good wishes in a message sent to the participants, who will make the march Saturday night. He also blessed the flame of peace last Wednesday during the general audience.

The papal message assures his "spiritual presence" in the procession, which is organized by the Communion and Liberation movement, and other ecclesial groups.

He added that his "fervent desire" is that those who "participate in this nighttime walk of prayer and reflection can experience the joy of Christ" and the "maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, Mother of Hope."

The Pontiff invoked upon them the "abundance of graces from heaven" and assured them of a special apostolic blessing.