Pope Francis expressed his “closeness” to the people of Portugal after deadly forest fires killed over 60 people.
After reciting the Marian prayer last Sunday in St Peter’s Square, the Pope mentioned the disaster, which occurred in the south-east of Coimbra.
Three days of national mourning were declared after a severe heatwave, with temperatures in excess of 40C, caused multiple forest fires in the country last week.
The prime minister António Costa said it was the “greatest tragedy” Portugal has seen in recent years.
Pope Francis asked for a moment of silence, saying: “I express my closeness to the dear Portuguese people for the devastating fires that are destroying the woods around Pedrógão Grande and causing numerous victims and wounded. We pray in silence”.
Hundreds of firefighters and about 160 vehicles were dispatched to tackle the blazes, which occurred on Saturday.
France sent three aircraft to assist while Spain sent two water-bombing planes to help Portugal’s fire services.