Pope Francis met with eight members of the Italian Coast Guard in Vatican City. The sailors come to the aid of migrants who try to reach the island of Lampedusa in rickety boats.
Marianna Maria told the Pope how she once helped a ship that traveled with more than 770 passengers.
"Certainly, the lasting memory I have of the experience is the eyes of those people. We only saw very sad eyes.”
The Pope heard moving testimony from the military. Another sailor explained what he found most shocking when reaching a boat full of people in need.
"They applaud as loud as a stadium full of people after we offer them nothing but a ladder onto our boat.”
Pope Francis said he especially appreciated the work of these professionals because they risked their lives to help others.
"I feel admiration for you, really. I feel small."
Before leaving, they gave the Pope a wooden cross. It is made from the remains of the ships that tried to reach the shores of Europe. Thousands have sought a better life this way.