Two girls stand in rubble after a tornado struck Moore, Okla., May 20. The mile-wide tornado touched down near Oklahoma City, killing dozens, including many children, destroying homes, businesses and a pair of elementary schools in the suburb of Moore. (CNS photo/Gene Blevins, Reuters)
Two girls stand in rubble after a tornado struck Moore, Okla., May 20. The mile-wide tornado touched down near Oklahoma City, killing dozens, including many children, destroying homes, businesses and a pair of elementary schools in the suburb of Moore. (CNS photo/Gene Blevins, Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — As the death toll rose from the massive tornado that struck near Oklahoma City May 20, Pope Francis offered a special prayer for the victims during his early morning Mass May 21 and later offered his condolences through his Twitter account.

“Let us pray for the victims … and the missing, especially the children, struck by the violent tornado that hit Oklahoma City yesterday. Hear us, O Lord,” the pope said during the prayers of the faithful.

The tornado touched down at about 3 p.m. local time in Oklahoma and reportedly stayed on the ground for more than 40 minutes, leaving a 20-mile path of death and destruction. Dozens of people were reported killed, and the death toll was expected to rise. Two elementary schools were struck by the tornado.

A few hours after the Mass, Pope Francis also used his @Pontifex Twitter account to express his concern for the Oklahoma victims and survivors.

“I am close to the families of all who died in the Oklahoma tornado, especially those who lost young children. Join me in praying for them,” he told the 2.5 million people who follow his English-language Twitter account and the 2.4 million who follow his Spanish-language account.