Tag - victims

Pope visits Ardeatine caves to pray at war victims’ memorial

(Vatican Radio) After celebrating Mass to mark All Souls Day at the Nettuno American War Cemetery on Thursday, Pope Francis travelled to the Ardeatine Caves where he spent time in prayer at the memorial to victims of a Second World War massacre. 

The Ardeatine caves, or Fosse Ardeatine as they’re called in Italian, are located on the south-eastern outskirts of Rome, on the site of a disused volcanic ash quarry.

Listen to our report: 

It was there on March 24th 1944 that German occupying troops carried out a massacre of 335 Italian men of all ages and backgrounds. They were shot at close range, in retaliation for a partisan attack in the city centre the previous day that had killed 33 German policemen.

Reprisal killings 

Hitler himself authorized the reprisal, which called for 10 Italians to be rounded up and shot for each victim of the attack in the central Via Rasella. Those killed in the caves represented a cross section of Italian society, some already in jail, including 57 Jews,  others rounded up by security police in the vicinity of the attack. The youngest was a teenage boy, while the oldest was a man in his late 70s.

Massacre site discovered

The victims were forced to kneel in groups of five and shot with a bullet to the back of the head. Their bodies were piled up and covered with rocks inside the caves, which were then sealed with explosives.

It was not the war was over, more than a year later, that the massacre site was uncovered and the victims were exhumed for burial.  Subsequently, the caves were declared a memorial cemetery and national monument.

Annual commemoration

Every year, on the anniversary of the killings, a solemn State commemoration is held at the monument. Popes Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and now Pope Francis have also visited the site to pay tribute to these innocent victims of war.

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope Francis prays for terror attack victims

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis, during his Angelus address on the feast of All Saints on Wednesday, expressed his deep sorrow following recent terrorist attacks in Somalia, Afghanistan and on Tuesday in New York.

Speaking from the window of his studio in the Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father deplored such acts of violence, adding, “I pray for the deceased, for the wounded and their family members. We ask the Lord to convert the hearts of terrorists and free the world from hatred and homicidal folly that abuses the name of God spreading death.”

Following the recitation of the Marian Prayer, the Pope had a special greeting for participants of the Race of the Saints mini marathon which was run in celebration of this feast day.

Before concluding his address, the Pope reminded the faithful that he would be travelling to the American Cemetery of Nettuno, South of Rome and then to the Fosse Ardeatine National Monument on November 2nd to mark the feast on Feast of all Souls. Pope Francis, said,” I ask you to accompany me with prayer in these two stages of memory and suffrage for the victims of war and violence. Wars produce nothing but cemeteries and death: that is why I wanted to give this sign at a time when our humanity seems not to have learned the lesson or does not want to learn it.”


(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope prays for Mexican earthquake victims

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis at his weekly General Audience on Wednesday expressed his closeness to the people of Mexico after the country was hit Tuesday by a powerful earthquake.

“Here among you (in St Peter’s Square), the Pope said, there are many Mexicans; the earthquake has caused casualties and material damage and in this moment of pain I express my closeness to the whole Mexican population “.

He continued, “I ask Almighty God to welcome all those who lost their lives”, and he also remembered the rescue workers involved in helping those affected.

Finally, the Holy Father, invoked the Our Lady of Guadalupe, so dear to the Mexican nation. 

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope Francis prays for Barcelona victims

(Vatican Radio) The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke has said that Pope Francis was greatly disturbed by what had happened in Barcelona.

He also said that the Pope prayed for the victims and expressed his closeness to the Spanish people in particular the injured and the families of the victims.

13 people were killed in the terror attack on Thursday in the popular Las Ramblas area of the city when a white van zigzagged at high speed down the busy avenue thronged with tourists, knocking down pedestrians.

Spain mounted a sweeping anti-terror operation on Friday.

As security forces hunted for the van’s driver, who was seen escaping on foot, police said they had killed five attackers on Thursday night in Cambrils, a town south of Barcelona, to thwart a “terrorist attack” using explosive belts.

Thursday’s carnage was the latest in a string of attacks in the past 13 months in European cities including Nice, Berlin, London and Stockholm.


(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope Francis prays for victims of Sierra Leone mudslide

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has expressed his “closeness” to those who have loved ones in the tragic mudslide that struck Sierra Leone.

A telegram signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin says the Holy Father is praying for all those who have died; and that he invokes “divine blessings of strength and consolation” on their grieving family and friends.

The telegram assures rescue workers of Pope Francis’ solidarity and support.

The full text of the telegram, addressed to Archbishop Charles Edward Tamba of Freetown, can be read below:

Deeply saddened by the devastating consequences of the mudslide on the outskirts of Freetown, His Holiness Pope Francis assures those who have lost loved ones of his closeness at this difficult time.  He prays for all who have died, and upon their grieving families and friends he invokes the divine blessings of strength and consolation.  His Holiness likewise expresses his prayerful solidarity with the rescue workers and all involved in providing the much needed relief and support to the victims of this disaster.

(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope Francis: prayers for victims of Stockholm terror attack

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday renewed his condemnation of last week’s terror attack in Stockholm, Sweden, entrusting the victims of Friday’s attack to Our Lord and Our Lady.

Pope Francis made his appeal in remarks to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square to pray the Angelus with him after Mass on Palm Sunday.

Pope Francis said, “To Christ, who today enters upon His passion, and to the Holy Virgin, we entrust the victims of the terror attack that occurred this past Friday in Stockholm, along with all those still sorely tried by war, [which is] a calamity for all mankind.” 

(from Vatican Radio)

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‘Via Crucis for crucified women’ in solidarity with victims of sex trade

(Vatican Radio) Men and women of goodwill of the diocese of Rome are to walk the ‘Way of the Cross’ in solidarity with all women victims of human trafficking on Friday evening.

Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:

During the General Audience on Wednesday Pope Francis invited the faithful to participate in the initiative organized by the Pope John XXIII Community in favour of women and girls who have been rescued from trafficking rings and of those who are still enslaved by the sex trade.

At its third edition, the “Via Crucis for crucified women” aims to raise awareness about the plight of women who trafficked and enslaved for prostitution.

The 7pm rendezvous in Rome’s Garbatella area has been strongly supported by the Diocese of Rome and Rome Auxiliary Bishop Paolo Lojudice.

Fr. Aldo Buonaiuto of the Pope John XXIII Community, organizer and coordinator of this special “Via Crucis” said that the number of women trafficked for prostitution has quadrupled over the past two years.

“Estimates of various monitoring organizations put the numbers of women and girls used in the sex trade in Italy at between 70 and 100 thousand. We believe that this presence is actually multiplied by four due to the continued landings of refugees along our coasts, and we all know that a large percentage of these girls are trafficked for sexual exploitation” he said.

Father Buonaiuto said the shameful trade sees the presence of girls who are younger and younger; most of them, he said, are trafficked from Nigeria and then distributed throughout Europe. 

“The huge presence of these innocent girls who are raped on our streets is possible because there is a demand”, changing this culture and discouraging customers, he said, can go a long way in suppressing the offer. That is why raising awareness is crucial.

(from Vatican Radio)

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