Pope Francis delivers his “Urbi et Orbi” message from the central balcony of St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on Christmas Day. The Vatican has confirmed that since the pope’s election last March, more than 6.5 million people have attended papal ceremonies and events in Rome. Photograph: AP/L’Osservatore Romano

The “Francis Effect” has been putting bums on seats, or should we say pews. No one had any real doubts on the subject but just in case they did, the H(...)

Italian prime minister Enrico Letta: says jokingly that, given Italy continues to fail to spend €30 billion of structural funds, he should get lessons in Dublin on how to use EU funds. Photograph: Giorgio Cosulich/Getty Images

Given the almost hourly vicissitudes that rattle his cage, you might expect Italy’s prime minister Enrico Letta to be a man stuck in a moment halfway (...)

Video image made available by the Armed Forces of Malta shows a life raft carrying survivors  following the capsize of a boat carrying an estimated 200 migrants. (AP Photo/Armed Forces of Malta)

Just one week after a boat sank close to the Italian Mediterranean island of Lampedusa, with the loss of 339 lives, a vessel containing an estimated 2(...)

Rescued migrants arrive onboard a coastguard vessel at the harbour of Lampedusa yesterday

The small island of Lampedusa, 7.8square miles in size and inhabited by 5,000 people, is no stranger to boat people tragedies such as yesterday’s. Clo(...)

The body of a drowned migrant is unloaded from a coast guard boat in the port of Lampedusa, Sicily, yesterday.

More than 300 people, mainly Somalian or Eritrean, yesterday drowned or were feared dead less than half a mile off the Sicilian island of Lampedusa. (...)