A million children around the world were expected to pray the Rosary on Monday, October 18, in an activity organized by the pontifical agency Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).
The “One Million Children Praying the Rosary” initiative was inspired by Padre Pio who, when he saw a group of children reciting the prayer, said “when a million children pray the Rosary, the world will change.”
ACN reported that emails and messages from dioceses, missions, and parishes from all over the world have been pouring into its offices for several weeks before the event, raising hope that the official number of participants will be higher than last year.
A total of 44 countries — from Afghanistan to Zambia and including Colombia, Ghana, Lebanon, Peru, South Africa, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Venezuela, Mozambique, as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina — have signified to join the prayer marathon.
In Thailand, the Catholic Education Council of Thailand said teachers, catechists, and families will join the children in praying Holy Rosary.
“This prayer initiative … aims to rekindle faith in the power of prayer,” said Father Ekarat Homprathum, CECT secretary general.
CECT is an episcopal office for Catholic Education in Thailand with more than 300 member schools and over half a million students across the country.
Father Homprathum said the worldwide campaign is an invitation to remember the words of Our Lady of Fatima that the childlike and trusting prayer of the Rosary “can truly change the world, defeat evil and bring peace.”
“We are called to form one family across borders, united in prayer. Out of prayer grows love for God and neighbor,” read the CECT statement.
It added that the Rosary “opens our hearts to concrete help for the persecuted, the needy and the poor in whom Christ himself suffers.”
A diocese in Myanmar has expressed hope that praying the Rosary can bring peace to communities.
“The pandemic is rather severe in our area. All the villages are in lockdown. Praying the Rosary daily is the only source of strength physically and psychologically in the villages,” read a message from a church leader in Myanmar who asked not to be named for security reasons.
“I have sent notification to all parish priests to organize the faithful in the parishes,” he said, adding that the situation in his country “has been bad for months now.”
Bishop Adalberto Jiménez Mendoza of the Apostolic Vicariate of Aguarico in Amazonian Ecuador pledged his commitment to the initiative and said at least 2,500 children will be taking part in the activity.
This year’s event is centered around Saint Joseph, with quotations from the Apostolic Letter Patris Corde (“With a Father’s Heart”) written by Pope Francis to mark the Year of Saint Joseph.
The campaign encourages children to pray “hand in hand with Our Lady and under the protection of Saint Joseph,” said Cardinal Piacenza, president of ACN International, in a statement.
The ACN Rosary initiative originated in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, in 2005.
According to the official website of the event, children were praying the rosary at a wayside shrine when “several of the women in attendance strongly felt the presence of the Virgin Mary.”
“They immediately thought of St. Padre Pio’s promise: ‘When one million children pray the rosary, the world will change,’” the website said.
St. Padre Pio is known for his deep devotion to praying multiple rosaries daily. The Franciscan priest from Pietrelcina, Italy was often seen with a rosary wrapped around his hand and had other rosaries under his pillow and on his nightstand.
Two days before he died in 1968, Padre Pio encouraged his spiritual children to pray the rosary saying: “Love Our Lady and make her loved. Recite the Rosary and recite it always and as much as you can.”