Pope Francis broke down and cried as he mentioned the travails of Ukrainians during a traditional prayer in central Rome on Thursday.
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, then, could not speak for about 30 seconds, and his voice was cracking when he resumed the prayer.
Mayor of Rome Roberto Gualtieri who was right next to the pope, applauded when he realised he was unable to talk and saw him crying. The crowd followed suit in clapping the pope’s emotional moment.
“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.”
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Francis has mentioned Ukraine in almost all his public appearances and has heavily criticised Vladimir Putin and his security forces for starting the war.
On Wednesday, he compared the war in Ukraine to a Nazi operation that killed some two million people, mostly Jews, in the first 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.”