According to reports, during a traditional prayer in central Rome on Thursday, December 9th, Pope Francis broke down and cried as he mentioned the travails of Ukrainians.
The traditional prayer took place at Madonna, at the foot of a statue on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, during a national holiday in Italy. Reuters reported that the pope’s voice started trembling as he mentioned the Ukrainians and he had to stop.
The head of the Catholic Church was then unable to speak for nearly 30 seconds, and when he continued the prayer, his voice was beginning to break.
Roberto Gualtieri, the mayor of Rome, who was standing next to the pope, noticed that he was crying and applauded. The pope’s heartfelt moment was applauded by the audience in unison.
“Immaculate Virgin, today I would have wanted to bring you the thanks of the Ukrainian people…” Pope said before being overwhelmed by emotion.
Having composed himself, he continued, “Instead, once again I have to bring you the pleas of children, of the elderly, of fathers and mothers, of the young people of that martyred land, which is suffering so much.”
Francis has referenced Ukraine in practically all of his public appearances since Russia invaded Ukraine in February and has strongly criticized Vladimir Putin and his security forces for beginning the war.
On Wednesday, he made a comparison between the conflict in Ukraine and a Nazi operation that claimed the lives of about two million people, predominantly Jews, in the early years of World War II.
After reading the prayer on Thursday at the statue near the Spanish Steps, the pope greeted people in the crowd, including journalists.
When one of the reporters mentioned how he was overcome with emotion, he responded, “Yes. It (the war in Ukraine) is an enormous suffering, enormous. A defeat for humanity.”