Walking as pilgrims of peace

Following Brother Matthew’s invitation in Ljubljana to become pilgrims of peace in the pilgrimage of trust on earth that Taizé has been leading for many years, a group of young people, together with sisters from Saint Andrew and brothers from Taizé, set off walking on Thursday 7 March.

A Palestinian family welcomed in Taizé recounted how their loved ones had to walk the 33 km from Gaza City to Rafah in search of safety under the bombardments. In solidarity with them and with victims of war from all over the world, we decided to walk as pilgrims of peace from Taizé to the town of Givry, 34 km away.

The 33 km also reminds us of the 33 years that Jesus lived on earth before giving his life for all, in order to become our peace and destroy the hatred that separated peoples (Eph 2.13-14), and we remembered that in Talmudic tradition, there are 36 righteous people in each generation who are hidden and who do not even know that they are among the righteous. The world is on their shoulders. Our walk approached this number.

We also wanted to remember that Taizé was born during the war, that those early years formed the community and Brother Roger’s welcome of refugees, some of whom were Jewish, followed by contact with prisoners of war at the liberation. Our walk crossed the demarcation line which, until 1942, separated the free zone from the occupied zone in France.

Four stops where we listened to testimonies and prayed brought us close to those suffering in Gaza and the West Bank, to the hostages and their families, to the people of Myanmar, to the victims of the war in Sudan and to those in Ukraine fighting for its very existence. An intercession also helped us to pray for those who, under oppressive regimes, campaign for justice and peace.

The difference in length between the stops meant that even people of advanced age or with reduced mobility were able to take part in the walk.

At the start of the walk, each participant received a pebble bearing the name of a person living in a conflict zone. We were invited to carry this person with us during the walk and to pray for them. This commitment was also to continue after the walk.

Here are two reactions from young people who took part in the walk:

Marcellina, Poland

Participating in the walk for peace was a deeply moving experience. We were a diverse group of individuals, brothers, sisters, volunteers and young people united by a singular purpose: to pray for peace and remember about those affected by war. Despite the physical challenge of walking 34 kilometres my spirit remained high as we shared stories, experiences, laughter, prayers and moments of quiet reflection. Each of us carried a stone bearing the name of someone touched by conflict. I walked "alongside" a young woman from Gaza, who, like me now, used to be a volunteer in Taizé and is currently trying to evacuate her family from the war zone. With every step her name weighing in my pocket was constant reminder of the ordinariness of people affected by war and the human cost of conflicts. Every day I ask myself how I should respond to suffering of all those people caught in the crossfire of violence. Yet, the walk was a vivid answer that there is strength when in the face of ongoing conflicts we come together to pray and remain full of constant hope and faith.

Florian, Germany

"Expecting a peaceful walk with others, this pilgrimage of peace turned surprisingly touching. Various stories and situations were read through out the way and were present in thoughts and talks. Everyone received a simple stone but with the name of a particular person at risk to accompany them long the way. This allowed to connect even deeper. Seeing all these stories and persons being carried to the final prayer at the destination was a beautiful scene worth the effort.

How can we all become pilgrims of peace, listening to the voices of the victims of war and armed conflict?


On the morning of Thursday 7 March, Brother Matthew said this prayer in the church of Reconciliation before the beginning of the walk:

Faithful God, pilgrim God, you always walk ahead of us. Be present with all of us throughout this day as we journey by walking, by prayer or by thought. Wherever we are, on the paths, in the churches or in our rooms, it is you who will speak to us through the testimonies we hear. Open our hearts to hear the cry of the innocent who suffer from the war inflicted on them. Send your Holy Spirit to accompany us and remind us that it is your Son, Jesus Christ, who is our peace. Through him you will always bless us. Make of us pilgrims of peace.


Last updated: 12 March 2024