Amid the devastation wrought by an earthquake in central Italy, Pope Francis quietly prayed and offered words of consolation to survivors and those assisting in relief efforts.
Later, when crowds pressed around him, the pope used a megaphone to tell the people of Amatrice that he had wanted to visit sooner, but felt showing up immediately after the quake on 24th August would have complicated relief efforts and “would have been more of a hindrance than a help.”
“From the first moment, I felt that I needed to come to you! Simply to express my closeness to you, nothing more. And I pray; I pray for you!” the pope said on 4th October.
The epicentre of the earthquake was close to Norcia, the birthplace of St Benedict, and had a magnitude of 6.2, according to the US Geological Survey.
Amatrice was the hardest-hit town, accounting for 234 of the estimated 290 deaths, according to the Italian Civil Protection office.
Picture: Pope Francis walks in the earthquake-ravaged town of Amatrice, Italy, on 4th October. The town was devastated by an earthquake that claimed the lives of nearly 300 on 24th August. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano).