Young Pilgrims flock to the Netherlands
Thousands of young pilgrims from all over the world are in the Netherlands to attend a Taizé gathering in Rotterdam, which began on Tuesday.
The Taizé religious community has organised five days of prayer, workshops, singing and philosophising for a total of 30,000 young people from 70 countries. Some will have travelled over Christmas from as far away as Russia, Ukraine, Servia and Poland.
The head of the religious order Taizé, based in France, Brother Alois is pleased with the cooperation from Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb: "Rotterdam is a very hospitable city, we feel very welcome."
It is the largest international Christian gathering for young people in the Netherlands. Although it is a Christian event, Brother Alois says Muslim youths are also welcome.
Almost 10,000 families in and near Rotterdam have opened their homes to the Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox Christian youths during the week. Mayor Aboutaleb will be giving a workshop on Thursday. The Rotterdam Bishop van Luyn will attend evening prayers every day at seven o'clock.
This is the first time a Taizé event has been held in the Netherlands. Every year the movement holds an event in a European city. The initiative to hold the event in the Netherlands was taken jointly by the Catholic and Protestant churches in the Netherlands. This is the 33rd edition of the event.
Every year 100,000 young people travel to the religious community in Taizé in France to sing, follow bible studies, and discuss spirituality and social issues.