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Pope displays rosary belonging to slain Ukrainian soldier and condemns 'insanity of war'

In Rome, Pope Francis guided a large crowd in a period of quiet on Wednesday to pray for the aid workers who died in an Israeli attack in Gaza and a young Ukrainian soldier named Oleksandre who was killed in

In Rome, Pope Francis guided a large crowd in a period of quiet on Wednesday to pray for the aid workers who died in an Israeli attack in Gaza and a young Ukrainian soldier named Oleksandre who was killed in 'this madness of war.'

Francis once again called for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza and the liberation of hostages taken by Hamas from Israel on Oct. 7. While praying for the families of the seven World Central Kitchen workers who were killed, he appealed for humanitarian assistance to reach the people of Gaza and for all efforts to prevent the conflict from spreading.

After his general audience, Francis revealed to tourists and pilgrims in St. Peter's Square the rosary and camouflaged New Testament book that a 23-year-old Ukrainian soldier named Oleksandre had with him when he was killed in the eastern city of Avdijevka.

They were reportedly given to Francis two weeks ago by Sr. Lucia Caram, an Argentine-born nun living in Spain who has led multiple humanitarian missions to Ukraine to deliver aid and transport wounded soldiers.

According to a March 13 Instagram post, Caram stated that Francis became emotional during a private meeting when she gave him Oleksandre's rosary and New Testament. She mentioned that Francis kissed the rosary, which he himself had blessed on a previous occasion for Caram to distribute in Ukraine.

“He urged me to continue. He gave me more rosaries to bring to Ukraine,” she wrote at the time.

When displaying the items on Wednesday, Francis flipped through the pages of Oleksandre's underlined New Testament and commented that the young man still had his whole life ahead of him when he was killed.

He requested a moment of silent prayer 'thinking of this kid and so many like him, killed in this madness of war.'

Francis has previously showcased other artifacts from the Ukraine war, including a damaged Ukrainian flag recovered from Bucha, the site of early Russian atrocities.

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