Christians from different backgrounds have gathered in Damascus to stress the “blood ecumenism” uniting them through shared suffering in Syria.

The “cry for peace” was joined by over 2,500, together with bishops of various Christian denominations, as well as nuns, priests, volunteers and scout groups, reported Asia News on Tuesday.

Catholic, Orthodox and Protestants offered prayers for peace in the country engulfed by violence since 2011, while hymns were sung by the choir of a local Orthodox church during the event on 31 October.

During the event, Vatican representative Mario Zenari stressed the “blood ecumenism” lived “every day in Syria,” referring to the persecution suffered by Christians as both “a boost, an incentive to strengthen this union” and a “blood witness”.

The event, sponsored by Catholic charity Caritas Syria, comes in preparation for Christmas, and serves, said Zenari, as “a breath of fresh air” for the whole community.

According to Open Doors’ 2016 World Watch List, Syria ranks fifth among 50 countries where Christians face the most pressure.