Easter Attacks victims leave for Rome

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A total of 56 persons including Colombo Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith and victims of the 21 April 2019 Easter Sunday Attacks flew to Rome, Italy to participate in a mass and a special prayer service on an invitation extended by Pope Francis.

The Catholic Bishops of Sri Lanka, led by Cardinal Ranjith, will attend this special Mass and prayer service on Monday (25) at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.

Airport sources said on Friday (22) two groups had left on board two flights to Doha, Qatar at 5:00 a.m. and 10:05 a.m. on a tour to Vatican City.

The first group which set off in the early hours of Friday (22) comprised seven Bishops led by Cardinal Ranjith and were to transit in Doha, Qatar awaiting a connecting flight to Italy. Cardinal Ranjith’s personal lawyer, President’s Counsel Shammil Perera was among them.

A second group left from BIA at 10:05 a.m. the same day. The group also included a total of 18 Catholic priests and nuns who accompanied the victims or bereaved family members. They comprised 20 persons from St. Sebastian’s Church, Katuwapitiya, six from St. Anthony’s Church, Kochchikade and four from Zion Church, Batticaloa. They too were to transit in Doha for the connecting flight to Italy.

Sources from the Archbishop’s House, who spoke to Ceylon Today recently, said the victims were set to participate in a special prayer service and a mass on 25 April 2022, at St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City. The requiem was to be held to mark the third year remembrance following the attacks and was to be presided over by the Pontiff, sources said. The Easter Attacks victims expressed hope that they would have the opportunity to speak to the Pope.  

By Dilanthi Jayamanne and T.K.G. Kapila