Pope Benedict XVI has paid tribute to a priest who lost his life saving a Madonna statue in the Emilia region of Italy.
Father Ivan Martini was a local parish priest in the village of Novi di Rovereto.
The high-profile visit comes after last month’s deadly earthquakes. The pope comforted the victims and urged them to turn to their faith to rebuild their lives.
“From the first days of the earthquake, I was always with you. Through prayer and the interest that I carried for you and when I saw things had become harder, I felt the need to come to you in person even stronger,” he said.
A total of 25 people died in the earthquakes and 15,000 others fled their homes. The bill for the damage so far amounts to several billion euros.
The 6.0 magnitude quake was Italy’s deadliest since 2009.
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