Silent Peace March Draws Florence Community Together
Thousands of people gathered for a candlelight peace procession from Florence’s Ponte alle Grazie to the church of San Miniato al Monte, conveying a powerful message. On October 23, 2023, individuals from a variety of political and religious backgrounds set their differences aside as they walked together in an effort to bring peace during times of violence and strife in Israel and the Gaza Strip.
As the participants walked quietly side by side, there were no signs or flags, simply candles held in remembrance of all of the lives lost or affected by war. The walk was arranged to bring people together, and in response, 15,000 came together in unison to promote peace and understanding.
The organizer of the event is Padre Bernardo, the Abbot of San Miniato al Monte. In his call for action, he stated that “it would truly be a gift within a gift if my friends from the Israeli community and the Islamic community who with their presence have long expressed the richness of our co-citizenship, would accept this fraternal invitation of mine.” He underscored the fact that they were all gathering in a square, which is a place for community and peace.
Padre Bernardo stood with Florence’s Imam, the Muslim leader Izzeddin Elzir; Jewish leader Rabbi Gadi Piperno; and the Mayor of Florence, along with the citizens of Florence in a beautiful gathering of peace and hope. Looking out on the wave of candle flames, it is clear how one could feel a spark of hope from this display of togetherness. (claire ryan)