As the Church celebrated Pentecost Sunday, gunmen entered Saint Francis Xavier Church in Owo, Nigeria and opened fire on worshippers.
In response, Pope Francis expressed his solidarity with the victims and sent his prayers.
The Pope “prays for the victims and for the country, painfully attacked at a time of celebration, and he entrusts everyone to the Lord, that God might send His Spirit to console them,” said Matteo Bruni, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, on Sunday.
Local doctors told Reuters news agency that at least 50 people were killed in the attack.
Dozens of others were wounded and taken to hospitals in Owo. Doctors have appealed for blood donations on social media.
Bishop Jude Ayodeji Arogundade, of the Diocese of Ondo, expressed his closeness to the victims and their families, according to Father Augustine Ikwu, the Communications Director for the diocese.
Father Ikwu said fears are rising that many more people may die from their wounds, and lamented that the Church had been “violated.”
He denied initial reports on social media that the attackers had kidnapped the priest and other members of the congregation.
“All the priests in the parish are safe and none was kidnapped,” said Fr. Ikwu in a press release. “The Bishop of the Diocese is also with them at this trying time.” He added that the Bishop also urges Catholics to “remain calm, be law abiding, and pray for peace and normalcy to return to our commuity, state, and country.”