The rosaries were made of olive wood in the city of birth of Jesus, and they traveled 12,000 kilometers to reach Panama. They are part of the "AVE GMG" project, inspired by the appeal of Pope Francis to pray for peace in the world. The initiative was born from the Swiss association "Saint Jean-Marie Vianney" of Lausanne and "Caritas Jerusalem", led by the bishop emeritus of Reykjavik, Iceland, Msgr. Pierre Bürcher.
The Pontifical Foundation "Aid to the Church in Need" (ACS) contributed to the project with a donation of 100 thousand euros for the creation of the small wreaths. "A gift already in itself precious," comments the director of ACS Italia, Alessandro Monteduro, "which is made even more special by the fact that the rosaries were made by the Christian craftsmen of Bethlehem."
There are over 350,000 Christians who have abandoned Bethlehem since the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. A hemorrhage that is closely linked to economic difficulties and the high rate of unemployment among Christians.
The approximately 200 families of Bethlehem who have worked for months to make one million rosaries for WYD will be supported for a whole year. "They are grateful for the support received, but above all they are happy to know that hundreds of thousands of young people in Panama will pray for peace, reciting the Rosary with the wreaths they have made," continues Monteduro.
"Here I am, I am the servant of the Lord, let it be done to me what you have said" (Lk 1:38) is the motto of Panama2019, and represents the first Marian theme motto of a WYD.
"The Virgin Mary is the mother of all: this is why the young are called to trust Her, because She is the queen of peace and if we do the will of the Lord all men, women and young people of good will, we can gradually create peace, starting from our hearts, starting from Jerusalem," said Msgr. Bürcher.
WYD has involved many people in the devotion to the Holy Rosary. This is the case of female inmates of the "Cecilia Orillac de Chiari" Women's Rehabilitation Center in Panama, 60 of whom made ring rosaries and other religious objects to be offered to young people during the WYD.