Pope Francis recited a special prayer for peace and protection from violence and terrorism when he visited the church of St. Francis in Krakow early Saturday evening, where there are venerated relics of two Polish priests: Zbigniew Strzałkowski and Michał Tomaszek, who were killed by the Maoist guerrilla group Shining Path in Peru in 1991.
Francis, who declared the two priests martyrs and beatified them last December, is deeply concerned by the downward spiral of violence and terrorism in the world and the ongoing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and other places.
He believes the world is “at war” today, as he told journalists on the plane from Rome to Krakow last Wednesday. He made clear that it is not the traditional kind of war, or an organic war, but “a third world war” that is organized and conducted “in pieces.”
The pope wants governments and international organizations, as well as ordinary people, to wake up to this reality. He took the occasion of his visit to the church to pray for all those who have died or been injured as a result of acts of terror. He also prayed for the families of victims and asked God to remove hatred and the desire for vengeance from people’s hearts. And he prayed to God for the conversion of the hearts of the terrorists, so that they may abandon their evil ways and opt for good.
He prayed especially for the world “torn apart by conflicts and disagreements,” and he prayed that people would give assistance and love to immigrants. He concluded by praying for peace and the elimination of terrorism.
Relatives of the two Polish priests and members of the Franciscan order were present in the church when he read the following prayer. Immediately afterwards, the Vatican released the text of the prayer in different languages, a sign that it contains a message for the world.
Prayer for peace and protection from violence and from terrorism
O almighty and merciful God, Lord of the universe and of history. All that You have created is good and your compassion for the mistakes of mankind knows no limits.
We come to You today to ask You to keep in peace the world and its people, to keep far away from it the devastating wave of terrorism, to restore friendship and instill in the hearts of your creatures the gift of trust and of readiness to forgive.
O Giver of life, we pray to You also for all those who have died as victims of brutal terrorist attacks. Grant them their eternal reward. May they intercede for the world that is torn apart by conflicts and disagreements.
O Jesus, Prince of Peace, we pray to You for the ones who have been wounded in these acts of inhuman violence: children and young people, old people and innocent people accidentally involved in evil. Heal their bodies and hearts; console them with Your strength and, at the same time, take away any hatred and a desire for revenge.
Holy Spirit Consoler, visit the families of the victims of terrorism, families that suffer through no fault of their own. Wrap them in the mantle of Your divine mercy. Make them find again in You and in themselves the strength and courage to continue to be brothers and sisters for others, above all for immigrants, giving witness to Your love by their lives.
Touch the hearts of terrorists so that they may recognize the evil of their actions and may turn to the way of peace and goodness, of respect for the life and for the dignity of every human being, regardless of religion, origin, wealth or poverty.
O God, Eternal Father, in Your mercy hear our prayer which we raise up to You amidst the deafening noise and desperation of the world. We turn to You with great hope, full of trust in Your infinite Mercy.
Made strong by the examples of the blessed martyrs of Peru, Zbigniew and Michael, who have rendered courageous testimony to the Gospel, to the point of offering their blood, we entrust ourselves to the intercession of Your Most Holy Mother. We ask for the gift of peace and of the elimination from our midst of the sore of terrorism.