(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has expressed his sadness for the tragic deaths of 13 international university students in a bus accident in northeastern Spain this past weekend and has assured the families of his “heartfelt” prayers. All of the victims were young women students on the Erasmus university exchange program. They included seven from Italy, two Germans, an Austrian, a French woman, a Romanian and an Uzbekistani and ranged between
19 and 25 years old.
The bus carrying 57 university students crashed Sunday near Freginals, halfway between the eastern coastal cities of Barcelona and Valencia. They were returning from a firework festival in Valencia.
In a telegram to Bishop Benavent Enrique Vidal of Tortosa on behalf of the Holy Father, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said the Pope hopes that the injured will recover swiftly.
Pope Francis, the message reads, wishes to express his closeness to the families who have suffered “irreparable loss” and invokes the Lord’s blessing for their spiritual serenity and Christian hope in this time of grief.