(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis prayed for victims of an earthquake that struck Italy near the town of Norcia on Sunday. The powerful temblor was felt as far away as Rome and Venice.
“I express my closeness to the people of central Italy,” the Pope said. “I pray for the wounded and the families that have suffered major damage; as well as for the personnel” involved in rescue efforts and in aiding the victims.
The Holy Father concluded his remarks with the prayer “May the Risen Lord give them strength, and the Madonna watch over them.”
Sunday’s earthquake was the latest in a series of seismic events to strike central Italy. Earlier this month, Pope Francis visited the area to express his closeness to victims of magnitude 6.2 quake that hit the region in August, killing almost 300 people.
The earthquake that struck Norcia on Sunday was even stronger, measuring approximately 6.5 on the Richter scale. It is believed to be the strongest quake in Italy in decades. No deaths have been reported, but a number of people have been gravely injured. There was widespread devastation, with many buildings, already compromised by earlier quakes, suffering severe damage. The Basilica of St Benedict, built over the birthplace of Sts Benedict and Scholastica; and the nearby Cathedral of Norcia, were both completely destroyed.
The region is still suffering from aftershocks, and victims of the quake have asked for prayers.