Milllions of Polish Catholics formed human chains on the country’s borders Saturday, begging God “to save Poland and the world” in an event many viewed as a spiritual weapon against the “Islamisation” of Europe.
Reciting “Rosary to the Borders”, they called to be protected from the dangers facing them. The episcopate insisted that it was a purely religious initiative.
The goal was to have as many prayer points as possible along Poland’s 3,511-kilometre (2,200-mile) border with Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Russia and the Baltic Sea.
Fishing boats joined the event on the sea, while kayaks and sailboats formed chains on Polish rivers, local media said.
The date was not chosen at random. October 7 is when Catholics celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, marking the 1571 victory of Christianity over the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Lepanto.
A victory attributed to the recital of the rosary “that saved Europe from Islamisation”, the Solo Dios Basta foundation, organising the event, said on its website.
Many Poles see Islam as a threat. The conservative government, which enjoys the backing of a sizeable portion of the population, refuses to welcome migrants to Poland, which has very few Muslims of its own.
“Islam wants to destroy Europe,” Halina Kotarska, 65, told that she prayed and clutched a rosary. “They want to turn us away from Christianity.”
Krzysztof Januszewski, 45, told he worries Christian Europe is under siege by Islamic extremists.
“In the past, there were raids by sultans and Turks and people of other faiths against us Christians,” Januszewski said. “Today Islam is flooding us and we are afraid of this too. We are afraid of terrorist threats and we are afraid of people departing from the faith.”