Tomorrow morning, on the Vigil of Epiphany, Pope Francis will meet with victims of the earthquakes that have struck Central Italy in the course of the past year.
Vice-director of the Holy See Press Office, Paloma Garcia Ovejero, confirmed to journalists present in the press office that the encounter will take place 11:30 a.m. in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall and that it can be viewed via CTV
According to Vatican Radio, some 800 people from the diocese, along with their archbishop and pastors, are expected to take part in the audience. Representatives of the civil authorities leading rebuilding efforts will also be present. In the name of all those present, the pastor of the Abbey of S. Eutizio near the town of Preci will address the Pope.
The Aug. 24 earthquake that struck near the Italian hill town of Amatrice claimed nearly 300 lives. About two months later, various quakes hit the same region, including a 6.6-magnitude earthquake on Oct. 30, the largest to have hit Italy in more than 30 years. While only two died in the October quakes, a number of towns, including Norcia, the birthplace of Sts. Benedict and Scholastica, suffered serious damage.
According to a press release from the Archdiocese of Spoleto-Norcia, the meeting will strengthen the local church in its principle task following the earthquake, namely, it noted, to support “the interior-moral renewal of the people.”
Its Archbishop, Renato Boccardo, said the meeting with the Pope “is dedicated especially to those who lost their loved ones, their homes, their economic security, those who have been displaced from their land.”
The Pope, he said, wanted to welcome especially those who, in different ways, have been wounded by the quakes, and who are looking for “consolation and hope.”
Next Sunday, Archbishop of Perugia-Città della Pieve, Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, will celebrate Mass for earthquake victims in the village of San Pellegrino di Norcia.
On the NET:
To Watch the Pope’s Audience With Earthquake Victims: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muT9kBa6Gc8