Photo/IllutrationA memorial service on the eighth anniversary of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake is held at Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican on March 11. (Shinichi Kawarada)

VATICAN CITY--Hundreds of people including Japanese residents in Rome offered prayers for victims of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami at Saint Peter's Basilica here.

Cardinal Angelo Comastri, on behalf of Pope Francis, and Japanese priests jointly conducted the church service on March 11, the eighth anniversary of the disaster.

"If fellow Christians can overcome their hardships, they will be able to give hope to the disaster victims," Comastri said.

The cardinal also shared the life story of Takashi Nagai (1908-1951), a Japanese Christian with a doctor of medicine degree, during the ceremony. Nagai offered medical treatment to victims of the 1945 atomic bombing of Nagasaki and promoted peace through his numerous books, according to Comastri.

The church choir sang “Hana wa Saku” (Flowers bloom) in support of rebuilding efforts in areas affected by the calamity, accompanied by a pipe organ.

Saint Peter's Basilica is the Roman Catholic Church’s holiest prayer site.