Pope Francis and Roman Catholics around the world are mourning the death of a member of the Paris World Youth Day pilgrims who died in a road accident in French Guiana earlier this week.
"With all his heart, Pope Francis shares the pain of her family, the group leaders and organizers," read a message signed by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state.
Sophie Moriniere, 21, was a popular member of the youth group from Paris' St. Leo Parish, according to a message from the Archdiocese of Paris. She was apparently serving as a correspondent for the archdiocesan-run Notre Dame Radio and was one of the 23 people who had traveled to French Guiana, to set out for Rio de Janeiro in Brazil for World Youth Day events in July 23-28.
The bus the youth group was riding in apparently collided with a truck in Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni in the western part of the country. Six people were injured.
Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois of Paris has called on Paris Catholics to keep Moriniere and her fellow pilgrims in their prayers, noting that they experienced "a tragedy in the midst of their pilgrimage of faith."
World Youth Day is expected to attract 2.5 million people, with the Vatican leader promising indulgences to those who follow him on Twitter during the festivities. It will also mark the first time Francis has been back to his home continent of South America since he was elected leader of the Roman Catholic Church in March.
On Friday, the Vatican leader tweeted in anticipation of the major youth festival, which was started by Pope John Paul II in 1985:
"Many of you have already arrived in Rio and many more are just arriving. We will see one another there in only three days."
L'Osservatore Romano reported that "Brazil is in suspense waiting for the Pope's visit," especially since Catholics there will get to see the first Latin American pope.
"The Pope's smile and simplicity, his closeness to the poor and his systematic remembrance of them in his actions and words make him a pastor prepared to lavish zeal and love on his sheep," the article said.
"His simple, direct words, born from a heart imbued with profound pastoral fervor, reach to the very depths of people. They instantly identify with his words because they concern their own daily lives. The light tone in which he says them takes nothing from their clarity, depth and power, conferring fresh vigor on the Church and regenerating enthusiasm for faith."