“Tomorrow is the fourth anniversary of the earthquake that hit Central Italy. I renew my prayer for the families and the communities who suffered the greatest devastation that they may go ahead in solidarity and hope, and I hope that the reconstruction might accelerate so that the people might return to live serenely in this beautiful territory of the Apennine Hills.”
With these words following his August 23, 2020, Angelus address, Pope Francis recalled the horrific damage caused by earthquakes four years ago in Central Italy. News of the disaster broke on the day of the Holy Father’s General Audience on August 24, 2016, and he replaced his prepared catechesis to offer comfort to the victims in the following words:
I had prepared the Catechesis for today, as for all Wednesdays during this Year of Mercy, focusing on the closeness of Jesus. However, on hearing the news of the earthquake that struck central Italy, which has devastated entire areas and left many wounded, I cannot fail to express my heartfelt sorrow and spiritual closeness to all those present in the zones affected. I also express my condolences to those who have lost loved ones and my spiritual support to those who are anxious and afraid. Hearing the mayor of Amatrice say that “the town no longer exists”, and learning that there are children among the dead, I am deeply saddened.
For this reason, I want to assure all the people of Accumoli, Amatrice, and beyond, in the Dioceses of Rieti, Ascoli Piceno, and all the people of Lazio, Umbria, and le Marche, of the prayer and close solidarity of the entire Church who in these moments extends her maternal love. We too present in this square offer you our embrace.
In thanking all the volunteer and rescue personnel who are assisting these people, I ask you to join me in praying to the Lord Jesus, who is always moved by compassion before the reality of human suffering, that he may console the brokenhearted and, by the intercession of the Virgin Mary, bring them peace.
With Jesus, let our hearts be moved with compassion.