Emotional Pope Francis breaks down in tears during Ukraine prayer

Pope warned that Russia mission 'doomed to fail'

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Pope Francis broke down in public on Thursday as he lamented the suffering of the Ukrainian people during their war with Russia. The Pontiff found himself so overcome with emotion that he was unable to speak for 30 seconds. The public display of emotion took place during a traditional prayer in central Rome typically seen as the start of the Christmas season in Italy.

During the prayer, Pope Francis said: “Immaculate Virgin, today I would have wanted to bring you the thanks of the Ukrainian people for peace.”

At this point, his voice began to tremble and Francis stepped away from the microphone as the emotions overwhelmed him.

The speechless pope remained silent for around 30 seconds as he tried to compose himself.

The crowd, including Rome’s Mayor Roberto Gualtieri who was standing next to the pope, applauded Francis when they realised he was crying and encouraged him to continue.

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Moments later, when he resumed the prayer, his voice could still be heard cracking.

He continued: “Instead, once again I have to bring you the pleas of children, of the elderly, of fathers and mothers, of the young people of that martyred land, which is suffering so much.”

Since Russia’s invasion in February, Francis has mentioned his hope for peace in Ukraine in nearly all his public appearances and has grown increasingly critical of Moscow.

When later asked about his moment of emotion, Pope Francis responded: “Yes. The war in Ukraine is an enormous suffering, enormous. A defeat for humanity.”

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Following the prayer, the wheelchair-bound Pontiff took his time to greet the crowd of well-wishers who had gathered to see him.

A day before, on Wednesday, Francis compared the war in Ukraine to a Nazi operation that killed some two million people in the first years of World War Two.

Speaking to Polish pilgrims at his weekly general audience, Francis noted the recent anniversary of Operation Reinhard.

He then went off script to add: “And history is repeating itself. We see now what is happening in Ukraine.”


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The traditional annual prayer to the Madonna celebrates the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

The Feast is a public holiday in Italy and a 168-year-old tradition that unofficially kickstarts Italy’s Christmas season.

Shortly after the ceremony, Rome lit up its iconic Christmas lights on its main street Via del Corso.

A message that was part of the Christmas lights quoted ancient Roman poet Virgil and read: “There is no salvation in war: oh, peace, we all beg for you.”

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