Pope John Paul II on Saturday led millions of Roman Catholics in prayers devoted to Mary, the mother of Jesus, through a satellite network that reached 29 countries in five continents.
The televised event, said to be the most ambitious ever undertaken, marked the opening ceremony of the Marian year, a period designated by the Pope for special devotion to Mary. The period runs from June 7 to Aug. 15, 1988.
The ceremony, beamed from St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome, took place after John Paul met at the Vatican with President Reagan for talks on world peace and disarmament.
Invalids hoping for cures at Lourdes, France; Nobel Peace Prize winner Mother Teresa praying in Poland, and girls in white Communion dresses in Brazil were among an estimated 1 million of the faithful who joined the pontiff in reciting the rosary in six languages.
Organized by Tony Verna, who put on "Live Aid," the satellite rock concerts for hunger victims in Africa in 1985, and five Super Bowls, the show was billed as the most complicated TV program in history.
"Praying together we have reinforced the links of solidarity with the entire human family," John Paul said after finishing the 50-minute-long recitation of the rosary.