Pope Francis broke from his script during his weekly address to crowds in St Peters Square, the Vatican, today, and made a direct appeal for peace.

Reuters reports that the obviously emotional pontiff said, "Please stop!, I ask you with all my heart, it's time to stop. Stop, please!

"Brothers and sisters, never war, never war! I am thinking above all of children, who are deprived of the hope of a worthwhile life, of a future," he said.

"Dead children, injured children, mutilated children, orphaned children, children whose toys are things left over from war, children who can't smile any more."

While Francis did not make any direct references to conflicts in Ukraine and the Gaza Strip, his comments came a few hours after a 24-hour humanitarian truce between Hamas and Israeli forces broke down.

Last Friday, Francis spoke to Israeli president Shimon Peres and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas by telephone, and asked both to call for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza conflict, as it was "giving rise to a serious humanitarian emergency".

The Vatican said Francis considers Abbas and Peres to be "seekers of peace".