Hundreds of thousands of Poles gathered to pray the rosary along their country’s border on Saturday.

The “Rosary to the Borders” event was organised by lay Catholics but had official support too, with 320 churches from 22 dioceses taking part.

Poles gathered in 4,000 locations, from the Baltic coastline in the north to the mountains in the south. Prayers were also said in chapels at airports and by soldiers at Bagram airfield in Afghanistan, according to the broadcaster TVN.

The event marked the centenary of the apparitions at Fatima as well as the anniversary of the 16th-century battle of Lepanto, when a Christian fleet defeated invading Ottoman forces.

Pope Pius V instituted the feast day of Our Lady of Victories – now known as Our Lady of the Rosary – to commemorate the triumph, which he credited to the intercession of Mary.

Some organisers described the battle as “saving Europe from Islamisation”.

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