Catholic Children in Nigeria joined the rest of the world in the challenge dubbed “A million children praying the Rosary” praying for an end to violence in the West African country that continues to witness attacks against Christians.
In a report shared with ACI Africa, officials of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) International note that children in more than 136 countries worldwide joined in the call for prayers of the Holy Rosary, Pope Francis had endorsed.
“Responding to the appeal by Pope Francis, inviting all children to join in this initiative, youngsters from no fewer than 136 different countries and on every continent took part in the most recent annual event of ‘A million children praying the Rosary’ sponsored by the international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN International),” ACN leadership notes in the Tuesday, October 27 report.
Children in Nigeria, ACN officials recall, keenly prayed for peace, an intention that had been advanced by the Pontifical charity organization when they announced the prayer initiative, “A million children praying the Rosary.”
“The central idea of the initiative is to pray for peace and unity throughout the world,” they say report, and add, “This was the principal focus of the prayers of the children in Maiduguri, in northeast Nigeria, an area that has suffered greatly from the attacks by Boko Haram.”
As the children in Maiduguri prayed, they held up their own messages and drawings, praying for an end to the violence and for all persecuted Christians, ACN officials have reported, adding that one of the most symbolic moments of the campaign was the Rosary prayed by children from the shrine of Fatima in Portugal.
“This Rosary, transmitted live on many different Catholic channels, enabled thousands of Catholics and other believers throughout the world to unite themselves spiritually with this initiative,” ACN leaders say.
In the report, Maria Lozano, Head of Press and Communications at ACN International, explains, “We have received hundreds of testimonies from all over the world, and we are delighted with the results.”
She reported some challenges the initiative encountered saying “the online registration system set up to enable families and groups to register broke down by 509,771 participants.”
“We also know of thousands of people who were unable to register with the website because the page was subjected to a cyber-attack just two days before the event,” the ACN Communications official says.
She probed, “It’s hard to understand why anybody would want to prevent children from praying, yet on the other hand it shows that somebody is afraid of the power of these prayers, which ‘can change the world’, as Padre Pio once said.”
Ms. Lozano said that for years now many people in African countries who do not have access to the Internet have been receiving information material from ACN mainly through the post.
Fr. Martin Barta, the spiritual assistant to ACN International said that involvement in this year’s Rosary prayers, which took place on 18 and 19 October “marks a historic record, ever since the beginning of the initiative in 2005.”
“This was the first time we set up a webpage for people to register on,” Fr. Martin Barta said.
He added, “The initiative has been a real success; it has taken on a life of its own and we have seen through the social networks how a great many people were invited to join in by friends, their local parishes or dioceses.”
The original campaign for “A million children praying the Rosary” originated in Caracas, Venezuela, with a small group of children who had gathered to pray. Some of the adults present remembered the words of Padre Pio, who said, “When a million children pray the Rosary, then the world will change.”
Earlier, Pope Francis encouraged participation in the ACN Rosary prayer initiative saying that children were, in a special way, to pray for the harsh COVID-19 times.