Madeleine McCann went missing in Praia da Luz on
Map of the complex where Madeleine McCann was kidnapped
A Portuguese woman weeps as she is given a flower at the
Mother's Day service where prayers were said for
The mother of Madeleine McCann, the British toddler abducted while on holiday
in Portugal, led tearful prayers yesterday as hopes faded in the search for her
Yesterday was mothering Sunday in Portugal. After attending a special
Roman Catholic mass in Praia da Luz yesterday Kate McCann said: "Please
continue to pray for Madeleine."
Concern are growing for the toddler who was snatched from her bed in the resort
on Thursday night. The search for the missing girl, involving hundreds of
officers, has extended more than five miles from where she was snatched.
It was disclosed last night that a sketch of a "prime" suspect
announced at the weekend shows only the back of his head. It is believed a
witness fleetingly saw a man in the area with a small blonde child on Thursday
During yesterday's emotional service in a small church less than a mile from
where Madeleine disappeared, a dozen local children gave roses to their mothers
and offered them prayers of thanks.
Mrs McCann, 39, a Catholic, attended the service with her husband Gerald and
broke down as she was given five pink and red roses at the church.
Among the verses sung was one with the poignant words: "My mother, today I
want to wake up and have you beside me. Today I want to be able to sing to you
my everlasting love."
Throughout the service Mrs McCann clutched a small cuddly toy, a favourite of
her daughter, and kissed it as she cried.
Father Jose Manuel Pacheco told the congregation: "Our hearts are full of
compassion, like God's. We pray that Madeleine will be brought home to the
heart of her family."
Turning to the parents, he said: "We are with you. Courage. Courage.
After the service Mrs McCann said: "I would like to offer my sincere
gratitude to everybody, particularly the local community here who have offered
so much support. I couldn't have asked for more. I just want to say thank you.
Please continue to pray for Madeleine. She's lovely."
Emily Seromenho, 14, whose mother Sarah comes from Ascot, Berkshire,
told how she had given the flowers to Mrs McCann.
She said: "I felt that she was very, very sad, she was crying a lot and I
felt sad as well. I told her to give the flowers to Mary. She said thank
Explaining the custom she said: "Today in Portugal is Mother's Day and if you
are with your mother in church you bring flowers and give them to your mother
and afterwards we go and give the flowers to Mary at the altar.
"It's just saying thank you for being my mother." Madeleine, who will
be four on Saturday, was taken from her bed in the ground floor apartment she
was sharing with her parents at the Mark Warner Ocean Summer Club between
9.30pm and 10pm on Thursday.
Her father, a consultant cardiologist, and mother, a part-time GP, both 39,
were eating with friends at a tapas bar a minute's walk away and had been
making regular trips back to the apartment to check on Madeleine and their twin
son and daughter Sean and Amelie, who were sleeping in cots next to her.
It is believed the couple entered the apartment through patio doors, which they
Police sources said the suspect was most likely watching the apartment for some
time and knew the parents left their children as they went for dinner.
Local media are pessimistic about the police investigation as it was revealed
that detectives do not have a known suspect in mind.
It was also claimed that Portuguese border police were not informed of
Madeleine's disappearance until 12 hours after the abduction, giving a suspect
time to get across the border into Spain.
Yesterday police said they believed Madeleine was alive and still in Portugal. They
have not elaborated on how they came to these conclusions.
However it is believed they are working on the assumption that she is alive
only because they have yet to find any evidence to suggest she is dead, rather
than because of specific intelligence.
Thousands of empty, private holiday homes in the resort are making the search
more difficult. Police want to search each one in case it is being used as a
den by the abductor.