Vatican City, Jan 14, 2017 / 01:50 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- On Saturday, Pope Francis baptized 13 babies from areas where devastating earthquakes struck Italy last year. The baptism took place in the chapel of the Santa Marta house, where the Pope resides.
Italy was struck with a series of fatal and destructive earthquakes last summer and fall. The first struck the town and nearby areas of Amatrice, Italy in August. It measured in at a magnitude of 6.2 and killed as many as 290 people throughout the region, and left several hundred others injured. The next earthquakes hit in October, in a region just 50 miles north of where the first quake had occurred. A magnitude 5.5 quake, and another, measuring at a magnitude of 6.1, struck the region of Visso, Italy within just hours of each other on October 26. One man died of a heart attack as a result of the earthquakes.
Just days later, a 6.6 magnitude earthquake leveled the 13th century Basilica of St. Benedict in Norcia, Italy. Two women died of sudden heart attacks during this earthquake.
Earlier this month, Pope Francis held an audience with survivors from the earthquake zones. “The pain is great...the wounds of the heart are there,” the Pope told the thousands of people gathered in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall for the Jan. 5 audience. The Pope told the victims that they needed true hope in Christ, not mere shallow optimism, to begin the rebuilding process.
“Yes for hope, but no for optimism...Today hope is needed to rebuild, which is done with your hands.” He also told the people not to lose the ability to dream in the process of rebuilding, urging them to have “the courage to dream one more time” as they move forward.