Pope Francis has visited the earthquake-hit towns of central Italy in a surprise journey. The Holy Father arrived by car with the Bishop of Rieti, Domenico Pompili, in Amatrice on Tuesday morning at 9:20 a.m. to visit those people affected by the earthquake of 24 August.
His first visit was to the newly constructed school ‘Capranica’, where the Pope met with elementary and middle-school aged children, who gave him several of their handmade drawings.
Pope Francis hugged them one-by-one and listened to their stories of the deadly earthquake in which 231 of the total 297 people died.
Afterwards the Holy Father went to the heavily damaged centre of Amatrice accompanied by the Mayor Sergio Pirozzi.
A press release by the Holy See Press Office said, “Already on Sunday, during his inflight press conference on the flight from Baku to Rome, Pope Francis had said he would make this visit ‘privately, alone, as a priest, as a bishop, as Pope. But alone. This is how I want to do it. And I would like to be close to the people.’”
Nearly 4,000 people are living in tents near Amatrice after their homes were destroyed in the 6.0-magnitude earthquake.