On Saturday, the family of missing British girl Madeleine McCann will hold a church service to mark six months since she was last seen in the Algarve resort of Praia da Luz in Portugal.
"We will be marking this milestone very quietly with an ecumenical prayer service for Madeleine and other missing children in the local Anglican church,” Madeleine’s father, Gerry McCann, explained in his latest internet diary entry.
Green and yellow hope ribbons hang from a tree outside Our Lady of Light church in Praia da Luz, southern Portugal, Friday, Aug. 10 2007. On Saturday a service wil be held at a church to mark 6 months since 4-year-old British girl Madeleine McCann vanished from the resort apartment where she was staying on vacation with her parents in Praia da Luz.
The six-month milestone follows a week of numerous alleged sightings of Madeleine in Morocco.
Three callers to an international telephone hotline set up last week by the McCanns reported separate sightings of the missing youngster in the north African country.
Each caller said that blonde, blue-eyed Madeleine was with the same 60-year-old woman, who they described as “middle class”. A team of private detectives are currently in north Africa searching for the mystery woman.
Private detectives, working for elite Spanish agency Metodo 3, are moving forward on the theory that Madeleine was targeted after a tip-off from someone inside the holiday complex or who had intimate knowledge of guests’ comings and goings.
Recent reports have suggested that kidnappers spied on the family for several days, watching their movements and waiting for the best moment to strike.
Then, on May 3, they abducted Madeleine from her bed as her parents dined with friends at a restaurant less than 100 yards away.
A source close to Metodo 3, which boasts a 100 percent success rate in tracing missing children, said: “We are giving special importance to three calls we received about a girl resembling Madeleine in Morocco.
“One was from a Spaniard, the other two from British people. In each case, the girl was about the same age as Madeleine, with blonde hair and blue eyes. In each case, she was with a Moroccan woman who was about 60 and middle class.”
Metodo 3’s managing director Francisco Marco, 35, said he is certain Madeleine was abducted and her parents were not involved in her disappearance, as some reports had suggested when they were made formal suspects in the case.
“We’re working very hard on all information indicating that. But I stress we are following up everything,” he said.
Since their daughter’s disappearance, the McCanns have launched an international campaign to find her, enlisting the aid of celebrities such as soccer star David Beckham and J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter fantasy books. They have also traveled to various countries where they have met press and distributed posters of Madeleine with the hope that someone may have spotted her.
The McCanns, who are both Roman Catholics, even met with Pope Benedict XVI, who put his hand on their arms during an emotional meeting and blessed them.
According to the Find Madeleine website, the fund that was set up to help find Madeleine has so far received more than £1million ($2.1 million) in donations. The McCanns stopped using the fund in September, however, when they were made formal suspects in the case, a spokesman for the family reported.
Gerry McCann, a consultant cardiologist at Leicester's Glenfield Hospital, and Kate McCann, a general practitioner, have been on unpaid leave since Madeleine disappeared, as they have led efforts to find their daughter.
It has been reported that Mr. McCann will return to work on Thursday, initially for three half-days each week, but will not have any direct contact with patients until his employers feel he is ready.