Pope Francis Thursday prayed for the people of the Philippines, who were hit Christmas Day by a typhoon which has killed more than a dozen people and caused extensive damage.
“I join in the pain that hit the dear population of the Philippines because of the typhoon Phanfone,” the pope said Dec. 26, at the end of his Angelus address.
Typhoon Phanfone first struck the Eastern Samar province of the Philippines as a Category 1 hurricane Dec. 24, continuing across the islands of the Eastern Visayas region into southern Luzon and Western Visayas Dec. 25.
According to CNN, at least 16 people have been killed and around 2,351 people affected. Over 1,600 people are in evacuation centers.
The rain and extreme winds have led to flooding and power outages, and caused massive destruction to homes, roads, trees, and electricity pylons in the majority Catholic region.
Pope Francis invited the 25,000 people present in St. Peter’s Square to pray a Hail Mary for the Filipino people, “whom I love so much.”
“I pray for the numerous victims, for the injured and for their families,” he said.
In his message, Francis wished pilgrims to Italy the “joy of Christmas that fills our hearts even today,” that it would “arouse in everyone the desire to contemplate Jesus in the cave of the manger, to then serve him and love him in our brothers, especially the most needy.”
He also noted that he has received many Christmas wishes from Rome and from other parts of the world during the last few days, and he is not able to answer each individually.
“But I pray for each one,” he said. “Therefore I express my sincere thanks to you and everyone today, especially for the gift of prayer that many of you have promised to do: thank you very much.”
“Happy feast of St. Stephen,” he closed, noting the day’s celebration of the Church’s first martyr.