Bari (Italy), Jul 7 (AP) Pope Francis is hosting a daylong prayer for peace in the Middle East with an unprecedented gathering of Orthodox patriarchs and Catholic leaders united in their concern for the plight of Christians in a region tormented by violence and religious-inspired divisions. Also Read - 10-Year-Old Italian Girl Dies While Playing 'Blackout Challenge' on TikTok, Probe Underway

Saturday’s ecumenical prayer was being held in the symbolically rich Adriatic port city of Bari, considered a bridge between east and west and home to the relics of St. Nicholas, an important saint in the Orthodox world. Also Read - 'Scary, Yet Beautiful: Spectacular Videos Capture The Moment Italy's Mount Etna Erupts & Shoots Lava Into The Sky | Watch

Francis greeted the patriarchs outside the Basilica of St. Nicholas and together they descended to the crypt to pray before the relics and light a flame for peace. Also Read - Italy's Forrest Gump: Man Walks For 450 Km to Cool Off After Fight With Wife, Fined For Breaching Lockdown

For years, the Vatican has voiced concern about the plight of Christians driven from Mideast communities that date to the time of Christ. (AP) CPS CPS

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.