Updated: July 09, 2021 05:37 AM GMT
A rescue operation for 369 migrants from a large wooden boat in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya by rescue vessel Ocean Viking on July 6. (Photo: AFP)
With migrants and refugees continuing to arrive in Italy by sea and with others drowning in the Mediterranean while making the attempt, the Italian bishops have asked parishes throughout the country to add a special prayer for migrants to their liturgies July 11.
Calling them "sailors in search of a future of hope," the prayer asks God to bless and "accompany all of them through the waves of earthly existence toward the port of your kingdom."
"To the hearts of their families, who may never know for certain what has happened to their loved ones, may God whisper words of consolation and comfort," the prayer says.
"May the Holy Spirit be upon the waters, so that they may be a source of life and not a place of burial," it continues.
According to the U.N. Refugee Agency's "operational data portal," 37,853 migrants and refugees arrived in Europe by sea from Jan. 1 to July 6. Most of the migrants first made landfall in Italy, Spain or Greece.
The portal also estimated that 883 migrants and refugees attempting the sea crossing were "dead and missing" so far in 2021.
The prayer written by the bishops' conference asks God to enlighten those who govern so that the Mediterranean would "be a bridge between the shores of the earth, an ocean of peace" and the setting for a true experience of the connections between people and cultures.
July 11 is the feast of St. Benedict, one of the patron saints of Europe.
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