The 47 pilgrims, accompanied by a guide and two drivers, were leaving the Shrine of Notre-Dame-de-la-Salette on Sunday when their bus crashed through a barrier on a steep mountain road, and then plunged 65 feet onto the banks of the La Romanche River. The bus burst into flames on impact, reported the Associated Press.
French officials reported this morning that 14 of the pilgrims were seriously wounded, and 10 incurred minor injuries.
Cardinal Ricard, archbishop of Bordeaux and the president of the French bishops' conference, sent the message to Archbishop Jozef Michalik of Przemysl, president of the Polish bishops' conference.
The 62-year-old cardinal said: "Distressed by the news of the tragic bus accident of Polish pilgrims that occurred upon their departure from La Salette, my thoughts and my prayers turned toward the numerous victims, dead or gravely wounded, and to their families and parishes.
"I pray to the Lord to welcome the deceased in his peace and light, and to bring healing to the wounded, while giving those, close to the victims, strength, peace and hope during this trial.
"I wish to extend in the name of the French bishops' conference, all my compassion and fraternal communion with the Church in Poland during this painful time."
Poland declared a three-day period of mourning.