Pope Francis on Tuesday made a surprise visit to Amatrice, the small Italian mountain town that bore the brunt of the August 24 earthquake that killed nearly 300 people.
The Argentinian pontiff’s first point of call was a set of colourful pre-fabricated buildings serving as a makeshift school.
Amatrice’s school was destroyed in the quake despite having been expensively renovated to make it quake resistant a few years ago.
Vatican spokesman Greg Burke tweeted pictures of the pope greeting youngsters and shaking hands with a visibly-moved middle-aged man.
The man lost his wife and two children in the disaster, according to the Vatican spokesman.
Another image showed Francis standing on his own in front of a pile of collapsed masonry, silently praying.
Accompanied by Domenico Pompili, the bishop of Rieti, Francis was also due to visit the “red zone” area of the devastated town which remains closed to the public for fear of fresh movement of masonry which could pose a risk of injury or worse.
Francis had confirmed his intention to visit the quake-hit area on his flight home from Georgia and Azerbaijan on Sunday, but had not divulged when he intended to go.
He said he wanted to make his visit “privately, alone, as a priest, a bishop, a pope. But alone,” in order to be “near the people.”
Source – Today NG