Pope Francis holds a flag that he received from Bucha, Ukraine at his general audience on April 6, 2022. / Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Nov 25, 2022 / 07:50 am (CNA).

In an emotional letter addressed to the people of Ukraine, Pope Francis wrote that he sees the cross of Christ in the tortures and sufferings endured by Ukrainians in nine months of war.

“I would like to unite my tears with yours and tell you that there is not a day in which I am not close to you and do not carry you in my heart and in my prayers,” the pope wrote in the letter.

“Your pain is my pain. In the cross of Jesus today I see you—you who suffer the terror unleashed by this aggression.”

Pope Francis went on to say that “the cross that tortured the Lord lives again in the tortures found on the corpses” and “in the mass graves discovered in various cities.” 

The Vatican published the letter in Ukrainian and Italian on Nov. 25, one day after it was signed by Pope Francis in the Basilica of St. John Lateran.

In the letter, Pope Francis recalled his consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on March 25.

He said: “May Our Lady, his Mother and ours, watch over you. To her Immaculate Heart, in union with the bishops of the world, I have consecrated the Church and humanity, especially your country and Russia.”

“To her Motherly Heart, I present your sufferings and your tears.”

Pope Francis has frequently prayed for “martyred Ukraine” in his public audiences since Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February. 

His letter to the Ukrainian people was signed exactly one week after he met privately with Ukrainian Archbishop Mieczysław Mokrzycki of Lviv and Bishop Jan Sobiło, an auxiliary bishop of Kharkiv-Zaporizhia in Ukraine and that the Vatican Secretary of State offered a Mass for peace in Ukraine.

The pope’s letter mentioned the “genocide of Holodomor,” the man-made famine in Soviet Ukraine that killed millions of people between 1932 and 1933, and the continued fortitude of the Ukrainian people today.

“Even in the immense tragedy they are suffering, the Ukrainian people have never been discouraged or given over to self-pity. The world has recognized a bold and strong people, a people who suffer and pray, weep and struggle, resist and hope: a noble and martyred people,” Francis said.

“I continue to stand by you with my heart and prayer and with humanitarian concern that you may feel accompanied, that you may not get used to war, that you may not be left alone today and especially tomorrow when the temptation to forget your suffering will perhaps come.”