Following his general audience earlier today at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI fondly recalled Fr. Andrea Santoro, the Roman missionary priest who was gunned down in Turkey over the weekend. He also surprised the crowd with a posthumous letter sent to him from the priest.
Fr. Andreas had just finished saying Sunday Mass and was praying inside of a Trabzon church when he was assassinated by unidentified assailants.
The Holy Father prayed today that "sacrifice of his life may contribute to dialogue between religions and to peace among people."
This sparked drawn-out applause from the 8,000-member crowd present in the Paul VI Hall. Afterward, the Pope added: "May the Lord take the soul of this silent and brave servant of the Gospel."
Benedict also revealed that just yesterday, he received what he called "a precious letter" which Fr. Andrea, along together with the small Christian community of Saint Mary's Parish, had written to him on January 31.
"It is an emotional testimony of love and adherence to Christ and His Church,” the Pope said, “But, above all, it is a mirror of his priestly soul and reflects his concern for the children."
The Holy Father said that he had also received another letter, specifically from the women of Saint Mary's inviting him to visit the parish. He called this second letter, a witness "of devotion and love for Christ."