On different occasions Pope Francis expressed the wish that young people should pray for peace in the world. In order to respond to this request, ACN has offered to send rosaries as a gift to the young people gathering at the World Youth Day in Panama in January 2019.

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Responsibility for supplying these rosaries has been entrusted to Caritas Jerusalem. In this way this charity has been able to provide work to many needy families, young unemployed, prisoners and refugees over many months in Bethlehem and its surrounding area. The rosaries, which can also be worn as an armband, have been produced at a cost of one US dollar per rosary.

Image: Olive Wood Rosary beads with a photo of Pope Francis. He will distribute to the pilgrims during World Youth Day in Panama 2019.

Bethlehem is a sort of microcosm of the situation of Christians in the region – their presence and survival is now at stake in the very place where Christ was born. “So that these rosaries can be a genuine instrument of peace, they have been made in the Holy Land, of local olive wood, and by the people of this very region, which is marked by such violent tensions and yet is at the same time a bearer of hope and peace. You could buy these rosaries cheaply in China – but if we made them in Bethlehem it is a sign of active solidarity with the people of the Holy Land”, says the initiator of the project, Emeritus Bishop Peter Bürcher of Reykjavik.

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Archbishop Ulloa Mendieta of Panama echoes this idea in a letter sent to the pontifical foundation ACN, that were one of the sponsors of the project: “On the one hand, it will encourage prayer and on the other, thanks to this initiative, it will sponsor an aid project that contributes to the support of our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land”.

For months now the Christians of Bethlehem have been working to produce 1 million rosaries. For each of the 200 families involved in Bethlehem the project will yield enough to support them for a full year. And they too will be contributing by their work; they will be personally involved. Though trapped in the shadow of the warfare in the Middle East, they are not forgotten. And what is equally important to them is the fact that hundreds of thousands of young people will be praying for peace and thereby fulfilling a personal wish of the Pope.

It is expected that there will be at least half a million young people in Panama. Pope Francis has repeatedly called on us to pray this prayer, saying that with the Rosary nothing is impossible, since “the Rosary is the summary of the history of God’s mercy”. This is also in line with the theme of World Youth Day Panama: “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)

Image: Archbishop of Panama (Msgr. José Domingo Ulloa) pays an official visit to Caritas Jerusalem.

Bethlehem remains a city of hope. And we are entrusting this hope, along with the rosaries, into the hands of the young people in Panama.

The Pontifical Foundation ACN is supporting World Youth Day in Panama with several projects. 

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Image: These are the olive wood workers in Jerusalem. They have produced the rosaries which Pope Francis will distribute to the pilgrims during World Youth day in Panama.

Prayer Points:

For all pilgrims and spiritual leaders of World Youth Day may it be a fruitful pilgrimage for all who attend
For the families of the workers who have made the rosary beads, may God bless them and protect them
For Pope Francis and his intentions.

Lord hear us, 
Lord graciously hear us.

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