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updated: 10/7/2017 7:04 AM

Poles hold national prayer for peace at borders and sea

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GDANSK, Poland -- Polish Catholics are holding rosaries and praying together at hundreds of locations along Poland's 3,500-kilometer (2,000-mile) border, appealing to the Virgin Mary and God for peace in Poland and in the world.

The unusual event called "Rosary on the Borders" was organized by lay Catholics but has also been endorsed by Polish church authorities, with 320 churches from 22 dioceses holding special services on Saturday.

The event is seen by many to have an anti-Muslim agenda because organizers say it commemorates the huge 16th-century naval battle of Lepanto, when a Christian alliance defeated Ottoman Empire forces on the Ionian Sea.

While organizers insist the prayers are not directed against any group, some participants cited fears of Islam among their reasons for praying at the border, many traveling from afar to do so.

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