For the first time since the initiative began in 2005 in Caracas, capital of Venezuela, the milestone of one million children at prayer for peace and unity was surpassed on 18 October 2023.
After 871,523 children registered for the “One Million Children praying the Rosary” prayer campaign on the ACN website last year, this year the number was 1,039,628. However, since many children also participated without registering, the full number is probably higher.
Poland, where ACN’s campaign is gaining in popularity, recorded the highest number of participants on the website with 275,000 children. There, the communal prayer of the rosary took place with kindergarten children, among others, at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, in Zakopane. Thanks to online broadcasts, families, schools and children in hospitals also took part. Slovakia (over 156,000), Philippines (over 136,000), the United Kingdom (over 77,000) and Brazil (just under 47,000) are also in the “top five”.
The fact that in many places significantly more children participated than had registered on the website is shown by the touching pictures and emails from all over the world that have reached ACN. From Congo alone, where only 1,300 children registered on the website, ACN received messages from more than 80 schools and ecclesiastical institutions where the rosary was prayed together. In just three of the schools, more than 5,000 children took part.
Participation in many crisis areas
Among the 124 countries participating in the campaign are violence-torn nations such as Nigeria and Nicaragua, as well as Ukraine, where war has been raging since February 2022, in addition to Israel and the Palestinian territories, where a heavy military conflict has been taking place since the beginning of October 2023.
Besides praying the rosary, children in some places, such as Pakistan and India, also re-enacted biblical scenes and creatively used the colouring templates from the ACN website.
“We are very thankful for the many children’s hands joined in prayer around the world. It is impressive to see how many children throughout the world have asked for Our Lady’s intercession for peace. The overwhelming participation in the prayer initiative shows on the one hand the great concern and longing for peace, and on the other hand also the willingness of many to pray for peace,” says Fr Anton Lässer, Ecclesiastical Assistant of ACN – International.
Cardinal Antonio Marto, Bishop Emeritus of Leiria-Fatima, Portugal, who presided over the rosary prayers at the Shrine at Fatima, said, “We have all come here with the special intention of praying this rosary to Our Lady to obtain through her intercession the gift of peace for this world that is at war, especially in the land where Jesus and Our Lady walked, in Ukraine and in other places where war has broken out.”
The cardinal also recalled that Pope Francis has invited all the faithful and people of goodwill to another great day of prayer and fasting for peace in the Holy Land on 27 October.