The Pope met with survivors and relatives of the victims of the shipwreck that took the lives of 368 people one year ago on the coast of Lampedusa, in southern Italy.
37 of the survivors from Eritrea traveled to the Vatican from Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Holland and Denmark, cities where they settled in after their traumatic arrival to Europe.
One of the relatives of the victims read a letter to the Pope with various petitions.
"If you can support us to give us an opportunity to an advocate who will follow this case.”
They also asked the Pope to help them find a way that the tombs of the victims may have their names inscribed. As of now, the victims are only identified by a number in a cemetery in Sicily.
Pope Francis listened to them through an interpreter and was visibily moved by their experiences. He admitted that he was at a loss for words.
"It's hard for me to speak because I don't know what to say. I feel things that cannot be said in words because no words can express them. With all that you have suffered, we remain in silence, we weep and we try to find a ways to support you.”
Pope Francis asked that "closed doors may be opened” for immigrants. He also reminded the survivors that they are not alone.
"Life for people who immigrate is very hard. There are so many men and women in Italy who have their heart open to you. Do not doubt it. We are with you.”
The Pope assured them that he would pray for them. One by one they affectionately greeted Pope Francis and gave him personal gifts. This refugee gave him a photo of the people who received him when he arrived to Europe.