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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 August 2007, 13:47 GMT 14:47 UK
Prayers to mark missing Madeleine
Madeleine McCann
Madeleine disappeared while her parents were having dinner nearby
The parents of missing Madeleine McCann have marked 100 days since her disappearance with a church service.

The couple attended the service at a church in the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz from where she vanished.

Kate McCann asked the congregation to "stay with" her and her family as they continued their "journey of hope" and to keep Madeleine in their prayers.

It comes amid unconfirmed reports in Portuguese newspapers that police now think the missing girl is dead.

Back in Britain, the four-year-old's grandparents took to the streets in Liverpool to hand out balloons, stickers and posters to highlight her plight.

'So hard'

Madeleine disappeared from an apartment room on 3 May while her parents were eating with friends at a nearby restaurant.

On Saturday, the church of Nossa Senhora da Luz was packed with holidaymakers and locals, many wearing green and yellow to symbolise hope.

The service - themed "100 Days of Hope" - included prayers for Madeleine and other missing children as well as short addresses by Kate and Gerry McCann.

Holding Madeleine's favourite soft toy, Cuddle Cat, Mrs McCann said: "As you are aware it is 100 days now since our little girl was taken from us.

Please stay with us as we continue our journey of hope and please keep Madeleine in your thoughts and prayers
Kate McCann

"Every day feels so hard without Madeleine.

"I could talk all day about how wonderful, how precious Madeleine is, but suffice to say we all miss her so much and our lives aren't complete without Madeleine."

She added: "Please stay with us as we continue our journey of hope and please keep Madeleine in your thoughts and prayers."

Mr McCann said: "Madeleine has been missing for 100 days.

"We have not given up hope that we will be reunited with her. We will not stop looking for her until she is found."

'Hurtful' criticism

When the couple came out of the church they were greeted by loud applause from waiting holidaymakers and residents.

In recent days they have been forced to deny allegations they were somehow involved.

Francisco Pagarete, the lawyer of the only suspect in the disappearance Robert Murat, has criticised her parents' alleged "strange" behaviour on the night she vanished.

Madeleine's grandparents Brian and Susan Healey manned a stall in the city centre of Liverpool, where they live, asking for donations.

Mrs Healy, 62, said, "It's been very hard this week.

Kate and Gerry McCann

"I think where Kate and Gerry tell us to stay strong, not to take some of the criticism on board, it is not helpful, it is very hurtful and a lot of it is speculation."

In the family's home town of Rothley, in Leicestershire, relatives and friends of the McCanns marked the 100-day milestone with a quiet vigil at the local Catholic church.

About 50 people gathered at the Sacred Heart Church to say prayers and light candles for Madeleine on Friday night.

There are also prayers and pledges of support being said on Saturday by sports stars, including England rugby star Jonny Wilkinson, jockey Frankie Dettori and Everton Football Club.

Teams in the Premiership have been wearing T-shirts with Madeleine's image during their pre-match warm ups.

Among the international events is a Mass being held in the pilgrimage town of Lourdes, France.

And a lone piper played a specially written lament for the missing girl at an international bagpipe event in Glasgow.




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