Pope to visit northern Italy's Reggio Emilia quake zone; selects town where parish priest died

The Associated Press
Associated Press

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI will travel to Italy's northern Emilia Romagna region next week to meet with victims of back-to-back earthquakes that killed 24 people.

The visit echoes one he made in 2009 to the central Italian city of L'Aquila, after a 6.3 magnitude temblor there destroyed much of the city's historic centre and killed 308 people.

On Tuesday, Benedict will fly by helicopter to Roverto di Novi near Modena, where the local parish priest was killed in the quake-triggered collapse of his church.

The region north of Bologna was struck by a 6.0-magnitude quake May 20 and a 5.8-magnitude temblor May 29. The quakes dealt blow in particular to the region's famed Parmesean cheese makers.

Already, Benedict has pledged €500,000 ($616,000) to families in severe need in the quake zone.