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Pope tells faithful he brought ‘solidarity of the Church’ to refugees in Greece

Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I prepare to toss floral wreaths into the sea on the Greek island of Lesbos (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool photo via AP)

Pope Francis told the faithful gathered in St Peter’s Square on Sunday that his visit to the Greek island of Lesbos “brought the solidarity of the Church” to the refugees there.

Reflecting on Saturday’s visit to Lesbos at the Regina Coeli, Francis added: “With me were the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and Archbishop Hieronymous of Athens and of All Greece, to signify the unity in charity of all the disciples of the Lord.”

One of the refugees he met in Lesbos was the Muslim widower of a Syrian Christian woman killed by extremists for refusing to renounce her faith, the Pope continued. “She is a martyr,” he said.

Departing from his prepared remarks, Francis shared his experiences of the day earlier with thousands of people gathered for his blessing. He said that among the 300 refugees he greeted Saturday on Lesbos was a Syrian widower with two children.

The Pope said: “He is Muslim, and he told me that he married a Christian girl. They loved each other and respected each other. But unfortunately the young woman’s throat was slashed by terrorists because she didn’t want to deny Christ and abandon her faith.”

Meanwhile, the Pope also offered prayers for the people of Ecuador affected by the violent earthquake on Saturday “that caused numerous victims and great damage.”

Francis asked the faithful in St Peter’s Square to pray for those suffering in the aftermath of the magnitude-7.8 earthquake, as well as those hit by a separate magnitude-7.0 tremor in Japan early on Saturday.

“May the help of God and of neighbors give them strength and support,” the Pontiff said.

Authorities say the magnitude-7.8 earthquake that hit Ecuador’s sparsely populated coast Saturday night has killed 77 people and injured over 570 others. Two powerful earthquakes in Japan last week killed 41 people.