Pope Francis could not suppress his tears as he spoke of the war in "martyred" Ukraine during a public ceremony Thursday afternoon in central Rome.
On the occasion of the traditional ceremony of homage to the Virgin Mary during the feast of the Immaculate Conception, a public holiday in Italy, the pope went in the middle of the afternoon near the square of Spain in front of the statue of the Virgin installed at the top of a column.
"O Immaculate Virgin, I would have liked to bring you today the thanks of the Ukrainian people...", he declared, reading his speech standing, before breaking off, broken by emotion.
His body shaking, the pope in tears then remained silent for long seconds, then the crowd present warmly applauded him.
He then resumed the thread of his speech, leaning on the arm of his chair but remaining standing: "... of the Ukrainian people for the peace that we have been asking the Lord for some time".
"On the other hand, I must introduce you again", he continued, his voice still altered by emotion, "the plea of the children, the elderly, the fathers and mothers, the young people of this martyred land which suffers so much ".
Already in his public Angelus prayer at midday in St. Peter's Square, the pope had evoked "the universal desire for peace, especially for martyred Ukraine which suffers so much".
The pope has tirelessly pleaded for peace since the beginning of the Russian invasion in February, a subject he regularly raises in his speeches.
In an interview published at the end of November by the American Jesuit magazine America, the pope had thus denounced the “cruelty” with which Ukraine is confronted because of the Russian offensive.
The Editorial Board (with AFP)