The first Flame of Hope ceremony in Austria took place on December 31st, 2019, sending a powerful wish for peace and justice to the world.
The Flame arrived from Japan, after lighting the candles at the altar of His Holiness Pope Francis’ international mass in both Nagasaki and in the Tokyo Dome in front of over 50,000 people in November 2019.
In the Catholic parish Neudörfl, located just outside Vienna, participants from all over the city came together on the last day of the year to reflect and pray. New Year’s Eve is a very warm and precious time of the year to share wishes and prayers for 2020 before joining in the greater celebrations. This year the Flame of Hope lit the heart of all people who attended the prayers.
The parish priest Father Kuruvilla supports the journey of the Flame of Hope. He is part of a team of Indian priests who have been living in and caring for people in Austria for many years, connecting nations and cultures in both religious and everyday life.
Father Kuruvilla blew out the Flame of Hiroshima of the atomic bomb as a symbol to cut off all pain of the past. He then added his prayers and blessings to the Flame of Hope, representing the prayer and deep wish for the future peace of all humanity.
Many people were happy to hear about the journey of the Flame of Hope and gave positive feedback. At the end of the mass, everybody was invited to come forward and light a candle from the Flame of Hope. They added their prayers and placed them in front of the birthplace of Jesus, who symbolizes the profound hope of humankind. Unifying personal wishes and global prayers through the Flame of Hope plants the seeds for a peaceful and bright future.
What Is the Flame of Hope?
The Flame of Hope is a prayer for peace. It’s the first physical manifestation of humankind’s common hope for peace.
The Flame of Hope wishes to change the world by lighting the spark of hope for peace in children’s hearts. And to transform all negative energy in the world into positive and create empathy, understanding, and compassion for each other. By spreading the Flame and bringing people together beyond all borders, religions, nationalities, languages, and cultures, humanity will not be divided anymore.
In March 2019, Earth Caravan was invited to the Vatican to present the Hiroshima Flame to Pope Francis. The flame was taken from the ashes of the atomic bomb and has been burning continuously as a symbol for peace since August 6, 1945. His Holiness blew out the embers of Hiroshima atomic bomb, as a symbolic act for abolition of nuclear and all weapons. From that act, the Flame of Hope was born to symbolize the transformation of past suffering into future peace.
The Flame began travelling around Japan in September 2019, visiting Catholic and Protestant churches, mosques, and Shinto and Buddhist temples along the way. Wishes and prayers for peace were added to the Flame from all who crossed its path.
On the Flame of Hope’s journey, the three flames mentioned below were added to it.
- The Flame of Commitment was received by the City of Nagasaki from Greece in 1983. It burns to symbolize the vow that Nagasaki shall remain the last city on Earth to experience nuclear devastation and that there shall be no more atomic bomb victims.
- The Flame of Peace from Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park was lit from three historic flames:
- The legendary fire of Miyajima Island, which has been burning for 1200 years
- Flames from all Japanese Buddhist traditions
- The flame recovered from the bombing of Hiroshima that was used by all Japanese factories to restart production after World War II
- The Peace Flame from Yame city was taken from the burning embers of the Hiroshima atomic bomb in 1945. Tatsuo Yamamoto searched for his uncle in Hiroshima after the nuclear bomb was detonated. He never found his uncle’s body, but brought the embers from the devastation back to Hoshino village and kept the flame burning secretly for 38 years. When news of the flame reached the public, a Peace Tower was built in Hoshino village in Yame city and the flame has been burning there ever since.
It was very encouraging to feel that so many people support the journey of the Flame of Hope through Europe. The next stop for the Flame of Hope will be in Serbia, followed by the Netherlands, France, and Spain along the Santiago de Compostela. The Flame will light the hope for a happier world free from nuclear and all weapons.