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On Feast of St. Stephen, Pope Recalls Russian Flight Crash Victims

Also Recalls All Whose Namesake Day Is Today, Offers Thanks for Christmas Wishes

“I express my heartfelt condolences for the sad news of the Russian plane that crashed into the Black Sea.”

Pope Francis said this during his Angelus address, after the recitation of the Angelus prayer to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square Monday afternoon, on the Feast of St. Stephen.

A Russian military plane has crashed near Sochi in the Black Sea. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, there are no signs of survivors. According to Russia’s transport minister and a Kremlin spokesman, the plane crashed due to technical malfunction or pilot error, not terrorism.

The Tu-154 plane was carrying more than 60 members of the famous Alexandrov military music ensemble, who were to perform for Russian troops in Syria, along with soldiers and press, reported BBC. Today, has been declared a national day of mourning.

After the Pope’s midday prayer, Francis prayed: “May the Lord console the beloved Russian people and the families of the passengers who were on board: journalists, crew and the excellent choir and orchestra of the Armed forces.”

“May the Blessed Virgin Mary sustain the search operations underway,” he said.

In addition to remembering the crash’s victims, the Pontiff recalled that today marks the namesake day for all persons called Stephen and Stephanie, which was followed by applause.

He also recalled that he received many good wishes from all over the world for Christmas.

“Being impossible for me to respond to each one, I express to everyone today my heartfelt gratitude, especially for the gift of prayer. Thank you from my heart! May the Lord repay you with His generosity!” he said.

Pope Francis concluded, reminding them to pray for him, and wishing them a good feast day and good lunch.

About Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is a Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in four languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, at times from the papal flight, and has done television and radio commentary, including for Vatican Radio and BBC. She is a contributor to National Catholic Register, UK Catholic Herald, Our Sunday Visitor, Inside the Vatican, and other Catholic news outlets. She has also collaborated with the Vatican in various projects, including an internship at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and is a collaborator with NBC Universal, NBC News, Euronews, and EWTN. For 'The Other Francis': http://www.gracewing.co.uk/page219.html or https://www.amazon.com/Other-Francis-Everything-They-about/dp/0852449348/

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