(ANSA) - Vatican City - An upcoming synod (meeting) of bishops at the Vatican will have record attendance, Assembly Secretary-General Monsignor Nikola Eterovi said Friday. Some 262 bishops - the highest number ever - are to take part in the gathering on the theme 'New Evangelisation for Spreading the Christian Faith'. "The increase in the number of participants reflects the commitment of all those who contribute to the mission of spreading the faith," said Monsignor Eterovi. Nine more bishops are set to attend the upcoming synod than did the last ordinary asembly in 2008. Of the attendees, 103 are from Europe, 63 from the Americas, 50 from Africa, 39 from Asia and seven from Oceania. The synod will also be attended by 'fraternal delegates' representing 15 Christian churches not in communion with the Roman Catholic Church, including Archbishop Rowan Williams, primate of the Anglican Communion, and 'special guests' such as Brother Alois, prior of the Taize' community in France, and the 1978 Nobel prizewinner for medicine Werner Arber, a Protestant, lecturer in microbiology at the University of Basel and president of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Pope Benedict XVI will open the synod with a mass on October 7, when he will also declare Saints Hildegard of Bingen and John of Avila Doctors of the Church. Then on October 11 the pontiff will formally open the Roman Catholic Year of Faith, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. The inaugural mass will be attended by 12 of the surviving 69 council fathers. On October 21 the pope will canonise seven new saints: Giacomo Berthieu, Pedroa Calungsod, Giovanni Battista Piamarta, Maria del Monte Carmelo Salles y Barangueras, Marianna Cope, Caterina Tekakwitha and Anna Schaeffer. The synod will end on October 28 with a mass celebrated with all the synod fathers.