In keeping with the tradition, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity was solemnly celebrated in Rome from January 18 to 25, 2024.
Pope Francis, in a powerful culmination, presided over the Second Vespers of the Solemnity of the Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle on Thursday, 25 January 2024, in the Basilica of Saint Paul, Outside the Walls. This event saw the active participation of representatives from various Christian communities in both Rome and Italy.
Pope Francis emphasising the importance of unity among Christians, led the ceremony and called on believers to avoid the divisive snares set by the devil through prayerful and selfless service.
Distinguished guests at the vespers included Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, His Eminence Metropolitan Polykarpos of Italy representing the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and representatives from various churches, ecumenical movements, the Roman Curia, and lay faithful. The ecumenical gathering underscored the ongoing commitment to fostering unity and understanding among Christians worldwide.
During the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the Pope of Rome expressed a symbolic gesture by kissing the egolpion, a medallion adorned with an icon, belonging to His Eminence Metropolitan Polykarpos of Italy and Malta, of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. It is recalled that Metropolitan Polykarpos had canonised San Nicola Pellegrino among Italian Greek saints, establishing a shared commemoration in October 2022.
Sources: Arcidiocesi Ortodossa d’Italia, vaticannews.va