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Madeleine McCann's parents make emotional visit to resort from where she was abducted

Original Source:  TELEGRAPH: SATURDAY 12 DECEMBER 2009
By Fiona Govan in Praia da Luz
Published: 7:34PM GMT 12 Dec 2009

The parents of missing Madeleine McCann have made an emotional pilgrimage to the Algarve resort where their daughter disappeared.

Kate and Gerry McCann arriving for the Saturday night service at the Church in Praia da Luz, Algarve Photo: SOLARPIX


The pair had wanted to return to Praia da Luz in southern Portugal for some time, Kate McCann said. "I have longed to come back here for personal and emotional reasons," she wrote in an update on the findmadeleine website on Saturday afternoon.

"Although our pain feels much rawer here, it is comforting at the same time since we feel closer to Madeleine."

On Saturday night they made their second visit of the day to the village's tiny church where they had sought comfort in the days, weeks and months following the disappearance of their oldest child, shortly before her fourth birthday.

It was the first trip back for Mrs McCann, 41, since the family left the resort in September 2007, three and a half months after her daughter disappeared from a holiday apartment while her parents dined with friends in a local tapas restaurant.

Mrs McCann and her husband Gerry, also 41, from Rothley, Leicestershire, earlier paid a predawn visit to the same church. "Early this morning we went to the lovely little church of Nossa Senhora da Luz. It was so quiet and peaceful - a real sanctuary," she wrote

It is understood the couple, who are both Roman Catholic, made the private visit at around 5.30 in the morning to ensure maximum privacy. They spent some time praying before taking a stroll along the deserted beach.

Mrs McCann wrote: "We walked down to the rocks on the beach, with its crashing waves and sense of vastness and freedom - another place where I've always felt able to reach out to Madeleine and find a little solace."

They made the poignant return as they prepare to face the third Christmas without their oldest daughter, who vanished on the night of May 3, 2007.

Their younger children, twins Sean and Amelie, who will be five in February, were being cared for in England by relatives.

The McCanns had flown to Lisbon late on Thursday to attend the first day of a court case that challenges the publication of a book written by the detective who led the original investigation into their daughter's disappearance.

Goncalo Amaral, who was removed from the case after several months, wanted to overturn a ban on his book The Truth Of The Lie but a judge rescheduled the hearing after his lawyer failed to turn up for health reasons.

Mr Amaral's assets and bank account were frozen after the McCanns obtained an injunction in September preventing further sales of his controversial first book, which alleges that Madeleine died in the holiday apartment and questions her parents' account of events that evening.

The McCanns' Portuguese lawyer said the couple had left for Praia da Luz on Friday afternoon following the postponement of the case until January.

"Kate is a broken woman," said Isabel Duarte, who is representing Mr and Mrs McCann in the libel case against Amaral.

"She was crying when she told me she wanted to go to Praia da Luz. She says it where she feels closest to Madeleine."

The McCanns, who are both doctors, attended a fifty minute mass at the local church, on Saturday evening. They were greeted warmly by fellow worshippers, some of whom embraced Mrs McCann after the service.

Members of the congregation said it the evening service had been an “emotional” one, during which Mrs McCann was observed shedding tears.

“It was an emotional service,” said one British expatriate member of the church. “Special prayers were said for Madeleine and we could see that Kate was crying.”

The congregation has always been supportive of the couple even when sympathy waned in the resort, she said.

“We feel very strongly for Kate and Gerry,” said the elderly woman. “That isn’t always the case with residents in the rest of the resort as there is some resentment over the drop in tourism following Madeline’s disappearance.”

“I’m sure it is not a personal animosity but people’s livelihoods have been damaged because of what happened.”


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