THE Pope has praised Sir David Amess’s years of “devoted public service” in a message read at a Westminster Cathedral service for the Conservative MP who was killed while serving his constituents.

In the message to the Requiem Mass, Pope Francis called for mourners’ resolve to be strengthened to “combat evil with good” and “build a society of ever greater justice” following the devout Catholic’s death.

Politicians including Boris Johnson, Sir Keir Starmer and three former prime ministers attended the service in central London on Tuesday morning, following a private funeral held in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, a day earlier.

The fatal stabbing of Amess during a constituency surgery at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea on October 15 deprived Southend West of its long-standing MP and many in Westminster of a beloved friend and colleague.

READ MORE: Nadine Dorries pledges UK online safety reforms following killing of Sir David Amess

As mourners gathered to remember him, the message from the Pope was read by Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain, to convey “his heartfelt condolences and the assurance of his spiritual closeness to the Amess family”.

“His Holiness recalls with gratitude Sir David’s years of devoted public service guided by his strong Catholic faith and evidenced in his deep concern for the poor and the disadvantaged, his commitment to the defence of God’s gift of life, and his efforts to foster understanding and co-operation with the Holy See in its universal mission,” the message continued.

The National: A service at Westminster Cathedral was held for Sir David AmessA service at Westminster Cathedral was held for Sir David Amess

“Commending Sir David’s soul to the loving mercy of Jesus Christ our Saviour, the Holy Father prays that all who honour his memory will be confirmed in the resolve to reject the ways of violence, to combat evil with good, and to help build a society of ever greater justice, fraternity and solidarity.”

Former prime ministers Theresa May, David Cameron and Sir John Major sat side by side at the Mass led by Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols.

They were joined in a pew by Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Johnson.

Labour leader Starmer was seen speaking to Major and Patel before the ceremony started. Cabinet members also present included Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid.

Canon Pat Browne, who knew Amess well as Parliament’s Roman Catholic duty priest, celebrated the late father-of-five as a “true bridge-builder”.

The National: Sir David Amess was commended for his 'devoted public service'Sir David Amess was commended for his 'devoted public service'

“David’s death was the catalyst for everyone in Parliament realising their oneness as a community working differently, but together, for the good of the nation in our world,” he said, before noting that the MP’s success in bringing unity was also witnessed during his life.

“He literally took his life in his two hands and threw himself into it. And indeed, he died doing so, in service of others.”

Mourners shared a warm moment hearing humorous stories about Amess.

READ MORE: Priti Patel won't rule out banning anonymity on social media after Sir David Amess death

A chuckle rippled through the congregation as the priest recalled the time when Amess had a boiled sweet blessed by the Pope.

And laughter broke out again as Canon Browne spoke about the MP posing in a suit of armour to celebrate his knighthood.

The 69-year-old had served Southend West since 1997, and Basildon before that since 1983.

Ali Harbi Ali, 25, has been charged with Amess's murder and also with preparing acts of terrorism between May 1 2019 and September 28 this year. He is due to enter pleas in December.