Pope Francis has chatted with leaders and representatives of many religions at a gathering to pray for peace in Assisi, the home town of St. Francis.

Francis also shook hands with each participant in a long receiving line after flying to Assisi Tuesday for prayer and reflection.

Christians will pray in St. Francis Basilica, while those from other religions will pray in different locations in the Umbrian hill town that for centuries has drawn admirers of the peace-advocating saint who abandoned wealth for an austere existence of preaching tolerance.

Later all participants gather in Assisi's main square, where the pope will speak and all will pray silently for war victims.

Francis has urged people worldwide to pray, too.

St. Pope John Paul II started the Assisi tradition in 1986.