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First messages from kidnapped Italian missionary

 Hopes for the safety of the Italian missionary kidnapped in the Philippines last October have been raised, now that his order has received their first messages from him - after months of silence. Fr Giuseppe (Beppe) Pierantoni, a Sacred Heart (Dehonian) Missionary, was abducted by a gang, on 17 October, shortly after saying Mass in his parish in Dimataling, southern Philippines. The Missionary New Service said there had been many efforts to contact the group holding Fr Beppe, but until last week they had no concrete evidence proving whether he was alive or dead. Last Monday, they received a tape recording said to have been recorded by Fr Beppe on 11 December. On the tape he told them he hoped to be released on his 45th birthday, January 24. The order has since received some photos and a letter, written on 11 January. In the photos they said he looks well and seems to have gained weight. "They have brought joy and hope to us" said a spokesman. He said: "Our prayers, with the trust in God and the hope to have him back with us in good health, are great ... his family supports with faith and Christian strength this long day of suffering and waiting".