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.