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An estimated 15,000 Christians of various denominations have arrived in Riga for several days of prayer, Bible readings and singing as part of the annual Taizé community gathering taking place December 28-January 1.
Attendees are noticeable throughout the city with many carrying backpacks as they arrive and being ferried to the various venues via a fleet of dedicated buses supplied by Riga's municipal transport company.
Many are staying with locals who have offered them bed and board free of charge.
Various religious leaders sent messages to attendees, including one on behalf of Pope Francis which said:
"Coming from every part of Europe, and from a number of other continents, several thousand of you have gathered in Riga, Latvia, for the 39th meeting organized and led by the Taizé Community. With the theme of bearing witness to hope that will be at the heart of your reflection and prayers, Pope Francis is particularly close to you because he has often called you to not let anyone rob you of your hope"
The Taizé Community is a male monastic order founded by a charismatic Swiss priest called Brother Roger who was killed aged 90 during evening prayers in 2005 by a mentally ill woman at the group's monastery at Taizé in France.
The community is made up of over a hundred brothers, from both Catholic and Protestant backgrounds, coming from around thirty nations. It says its purpose is "to be a sign of reconciliation between divided Christians and between separated peoples" and has an enthusiastic following of many thousands more, as the Riga event shows.
You can follow events linked to the Taizé gathering and find out more about the Taizé community at the official website HERE.
On social media the hashtag #TaizeRiga and the Twitter account @TaizeRiga2016 will also give information about what is happening over coming days.
After a long day of welcome, the first common prayer was beautiful and peaceful. The European Meeting began this evening.— TaizeRiga2016 (@TaizeRiga2016) December 28, 2016