European relay ‘Peace Light of Bethlehem’ launched
On Saturday, 12 December 2015, delegations of scout organizations from all over Europe received the “Peace Light of Bethlehem,” which was lit for 29 consecutive times at the birthplace of Jesus in Bethlehem. Earlier this light was passed to North America.
According to Vatican Radio, every year the organizers choose an Austrian child who travels with a delegation to the Holy Land to light an icon lamp from a lamp that burns continuously in the cave of the birth of Jesus Christ. This year's “Peace Child” is selected Niklas Dumharta town of Sankt Georgen an der Gusen, and given the situation in the Middle East, on November 23, the lamp was lit by a local 9-year-old girl from Bethlehem who passed the Peace Light to the Austrian delegation.
Ten-year old Niklas Dumhart was selected as a “Peace Child” because of his commitment to the neighbors. A fourth grade pupil of the local school, he made friends with a refugee classmate, who came with his family from Afghanistan. The boy spends with his friend most of his free time, helping him learn German and do homework. Niklas says: “For me is clear: if someone needs help, I have to help him.”
Niklas lives with her older sister, parents and grandmother in Sankt Georgen an der Gusen, where together with his friend in Afghanistan he also plays for local children's football club. His dream is after graduation to become a doctor, as he said, “to help others.”
During Saturday's ceremony in Vienna Niklas passed the fire of peace along with his message of peace to members of Scout organizations, including Ukrainian to deliver it to all parts of Europe. The boy also will make a trip to Rome to personally convey "the fire of peace" to Pope Francis.
Tho Peace Light of Bethlehem is constantly burning in Bethlehem, in the basilica, which stands on the site of the birth of Jesus Christ. The first mention of Bethlehem Fire dates back to XII century. Then one of the participants in the Crusades brought the Peace Light of Bethlehem as a gift for his family and friends. This excellent pre-Christmas tradition - to spread the Peace Light of Bethlehem was initiated in 1986 by the Austrian broadcasting company ORF from the city of Linz to convey symbolic fire from the birthplace of Jesus Christ to those who celebrate Christmas away from home - in hospitals, orphanages, etc. This noble cause was taken over by Austrian scouts and from 1988 the Peace Light of Bethlehem began to travel across the world in the scout relay, initially only in Europe, but now, at Christmas time, it is burning on all continents.
The Peace Light is being passed from hand to hand, from one scout cell to another, crossing the boundaries of states. From Austria via Poland and Slovakia, in mid-December the light arrives in Ukraine, under the supervision of scout organizations of Ukraine, such as Plast, Ukrainian Scouts Organization, Catholic European Scouts and others. The Peace Light of Bethlehem is distributed between the churches, hospitals, orphanages, it is passed on to representatives of authorities and the faithful can take it home to light a Christmas candle and pass on to others