Italy Holds Mass Funeral for Quake Victims

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2009 6:36 AM CDT
A woman looks at the white coffin of a child, prior to the funerals for quake victims in L'Aquila, central Italy, Friday, April 10, 2009.   (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
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(Newser) – Italy today held a mass state funeral for 205 of the people killed in the Abruzzo earthquake and observed a national day of morning, the BBC reports. Dozens of coffins and thousands of people gathered at the open-air service at a police training base outside the damaged city of L’Aquila to hear the mass, which was performed by the Vatican’s second-highest ranking priest, Cardinal Tarcisio.

The church granted the state a special dispensation to hold the mass on Good Friday. The pope’s personal secretary read a statement from the pontiff, saying he felt “spiritually present, amongst all of you.” After the Christian ceremony, an imam read a prayer honoring the six Muslims among those being buried. The quake’s death toll was raised to 289 today; rescue workers doubt more survivors will be found in the rubble.