Victims were returning to Naples after three-day pilgrimage to Catholic shrines

Pope Francis has sent a message of condolence for the victims of a bus crash which killed 38 pilgrims in Italy on Sunday.

According to reports, the pilgrims were on their way home from the Padre Pio shrine when their bus plunged from an elevated stretch of motorway in Irpinia, a mountainous region in Campania, in southern Italy. Another 19 people were reported seriously injured, including passengers of nearby vehicles.

The Pope’s message, signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone and sent to the Cardinal Archbishop of Naples, Cresenzio Sepe, said: “Learning of the sad news of the dramatic accident which occurred on the A16 Naples-Canosa motorway viaduct, in which many people died, some of which were children, the Holy Father shares the profound pain that has struck the Campania region, while ensuring his fervent prayers for the many victims.

“The Holy Father prays that they will be granted eternal rest and invokes a special Apostolic Blessing that the Lord will heal the injured and give comfort to those who mourn loved ones.”

The tour bus carrying about 50 pilgrims was heading back to Naples after a three-day pilgrimage to Catholic shrines, including Pietralcina, birthplace of Padre Pio. The cause of the accident is yet to be confirmed.