Pope Francis will celebrate a Holy Mass for Migrants in Rome’s Saint Peter’s Basilica on Monday 8, to mark the 6th anniversary of his visit to the tiny island of Lampedusa, off the coast of Sicily.

“Around 250 people will participate in the celebration, among whom will be migrants, refugees and those who are dedicated to saving their lives,” read a statement by the ‘ad interim’ director of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti.

With the plight and cause of refugees and migrants very close to his heart, Pope Francis who was elected on 13 March 2013, dedicated his first pastoral visit outside Rome to Lampedusa nearly 4 months later on July 8.

Lampedusa is one of the main entry points into Europe for refugees and migrants who set out from North Africa, risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean in overcrowded and unsafe vessels and small boats.

While there in 2013, Pope Francis prayed for the numerous illegal migrants who drowned while trying to reach the shores of Europe.  He threw a wreath of flowers into the sea, in a sign of mourning – before presiding over an open-air Mass.

All those migrants who have lost their lives while trying to cross the sea will be remembered at the Mass next week.

ENDS