Pope Francis prays for Alabama tornado victims

Pope Francis at the general audience in St Peters Square on March 14 2018 Credit Daniel Ibanez 1 CNA Pope Francis at the general audience in St. Peter's Square on March 14, 2018. | Daniel Ibanez / CNA.

Pope Francis sent his prayers and condolences to Alabama Wednesday after devastating tornadoes over the weekend killed 23 people and left dozens of survivors without homes.

"Deeply saddened to learn of the tragic loss of life and the injuries caused by the tornado which struck Alabama in recent days, His Holiness Pope Francis expresses heartfelt solidarity with all affected by this natural disaster," a telegram sent on behalf of the pope stated March 6.

Pope Francis prays for "healing and consolation" for the injured and those who grieve, and that "Almighty God may grant eternal rest to the dead, especially the children," the cable continued.

Victims of the storm – which has been declared the deadliest tornado in the U.S. since 2013 – include four children ages 6-10.

Between three and five tornadoes with winds measuring as high as 170 mph touched down in eastern Alabama March 3, and traveled 70 miles, causing further destruction in Georgia.

Catholic Social Services have been in contact with local pastors in the region to coordinate recovery efforts. St. Michael's Parish in Auburn, Alabama is collecting gift cards to give the agencies to distribute to families in need.

"Upon all who are suffering the effects of this calamity, the Holy Father invokes the Lord's blessings of peace and strength," Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin wrote in the telegram on behalf of Pope Francis.

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