Madeleine's mother, Kate McCann, appeared to be holding back tears as she and her husband, both Catholics, met the Pope at the end of his general audience in St Peter's Square as the abduction approached its one-month mark, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
"He said he would pray for us and our family and for Madeleine's safe return," Ms McCann said afterwards.
During their brief meeting Ms McCann held up a photograph of Madeleine, who was snatched from a Portuguese resort a month ago.
The Pope touched the photo gently, blessed it by making the sign of the cross and then spoke words of comfort.
"It was very emotional but also a positive experience ... that photograph will stay with me," the mother said afterwards.
She and husband Gerry met the Pope when he walked over to a section reserved for special guests at the outdoor audience attended by tens of thousands of people.
The girl's father, who kissed the Pope's hand, said later he and his wife were touched and encouraged by the Pope's gestures.
"It was more personal than anything I could have imagined it to be," he said.
"There was recognition immediately, looking at Madeleine's photograph, and his touch and thoughts and words were more tender than we could have thought and that will help sustain us during this most difficult time."
The girl's mother was carrying a pink fluffy toy cat that Madeleine had named "cuddle cat" and without whom she could not fall asleep.
"One evil act seems to be generating so much good ... and has restored my faith in humanity," Madeleine's father said.
Pope tells parents he'll pray for Maddy's return (Sydney Morning Herald, 31/5/07)
UK girl's parents cry after Pope meeting (The Age, 31/5/07)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Madeleine McCann (Wikipedia)
Bring Madeleine Home
Madeleine's parents seek miracle (CathNews, 24/5/07)
Fatima pilgrims pray for missing girl (CathNews, 14/5/07)