ON TUESDAY the Pope visited the area of southern Italy devastated by the weekend's savage earthquake. He stopped to spend some time visiting the injured in the hospital at Potenza, a town more than 80 miles east of Naples.
He prayed there with the survivors telling them, "I cannot bring you anything. But I am here among you with my blessings and prayers to give you a sign of hope.
The Pope then went by helicopter to the little village of Balvano where the parish church collapsed during evening Mass on Sunday killing at least 100 people. Standing on a table in front of hastily erected tents the Pope said he had come as a brother and a pastor to show his human solidarity, compassion and Christian love. Ile added: "When someone is suffering he needs someone else beside him to offer comfort."
He later made a brief stop in Avellino where in front of the general hospital a large number of survivors — many of them injured surrounded him and joined him in reciting the Our Father.
• The Pope decided only on Monday evening to visit the stricken area. The only recent precedent was Pius Xll's visit to badly bombed parts of Rome in 1943.