Bishop David has sent a message from Canada - where he is on a short holiday - to express his sympathy and concerns and offer prayers for the growing number of people who are affected by an earthquake in Central Italy today.
The Archdeacon of Italy and Malta, Ven Vickie Simms, says she has been speaking to church officials in Assisi after the quake which hit south of Perugia and affected a region known as Pescara. There is a small congregation which comprises mainly Nigerians in Italy and meets in Pescara. They have been sending messages on social media assuring people that they are safe.
From Rome, Canon Jonathan Boardman writes; "The Assisi and Macerata congregations were nearest to the epicentre but an Anglican choir visiting from St Mary's Maldon, Essex were in the area much nearer the devastation. On the day of the quake itself they sang Choral Evensong at the Sanctuary of Santa Rita in Cascia and remembered the casualties and injured in prayer. Our own congregations have checked in and individuals all seem safe and sound. Everyone has suffered from real shock and sadness at the scale of the tragedy, however, and those with long memories and long associations here think back to the devastation at Assisi in 1997. Italians are remarkably resilient in the face of these circumstances and their highly developed structures from Civil Protection over and above the emergency services swing rapidly and effectively into action. There will be time in the future for our churches to make financial contributions to the disaster fund as we have done in the past - but for now we are all praying for the survivors and those who are still desperately seeking them."
The earthquake which measured 6.2 on the Richter scale is so far known to have claimed the lives of at least 247 people and left many more injured and homeless.
In his message Bishop David says "the news has reached Canada where I am right now that a deadly earthquake has hit near Pescara. I pray that members of our communities are safe. May God grant rest to all who have died and comfort to the bereaved and injured and strength for all involved in the rescue."
pictures from CNN reports http://edition.cnn.com/2016/08/24/europe/gallery/italy-earthquake/