Italy grieves with emotional mass funeral for earthquake victims

ASCOLI PICENO, Italy
– Mourners in Italy prayed,
hugged, wept and even applauded as coffins carrying victims of the country’s
devastating earthquake passed by at a state funeral Saturday, grieving as one
nation after three desperate days of trying to save as many people as possible.

In the central town of Ascoli Piceno, they gathered to
bid farewell to 35 of the 291 people confirmed dead so far after the quake that
struck a swath of countryside early Wednesday at the foothills of the central
Apennine mountains.

The caskets of 35 people had been brought to a community
gym – one of the few structures in the area still intact and large enough to
hold hundreds of mourners. The local bishop, Giovanni D’Ercole, celebrated Mass
beneath a crucifix he had retrieved from one of the damaged churches in the
picturesque area of medieval stone towns and hamlets​.

Emotions that had…

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