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Bells ring in solidarity with Middle East on Catholic festival

The tolls will invite the faithful to gather and pray for persecuted Christians in the Middle East.

So far six bishops have decided the bells will ring out in all churches to mark the occasion.

Archbishop Jean-Pierre Cattenoz of Avignon said that: "When everything goes wrong, when one has nothing more, it is to the Virgin Mary that one turns."

Archbishop Dominique Rey of Fréjus-Toulon, behind the initiative, has asked parishes to gather at noon to show their support for persecuted Christians in the Middle East.

It is hoped churches Switzerland will also be joining in.

The date, 15th August coincides with the events in Iraq a year ago - the fall of Mosul and Qaraqosh, the country's largest Christian town in Christian heartland of Iraq.

Archbishop Jean-Pierre Cattenoz, said in Catholic World News, the Feast Day of the Assumption was chosen as the Christians in the Middle East have a special devotion to the Virgin.

He said: "This is a gesture of prayer, solidarity, peace and faith. We believe it can have a real impact."

Bishop Lang said he would be remembering all minority communities who are experiencing persecution.

He has invited people to pray for peace in the Middle East Region, and to remember all those who are refugees from their homeland.

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