(CNN) — Pope Francis will take three migrant families from camps on the Greek island of Lesbos back to Rome with him on the papal plane, according to the Holy See Press Office. The Vatican will take responsibility for the three families — 12 people in all — the statement says. All are from Syria.
Pope Francis traveled to the Greek island of Lesbos on Saturday to meet with migrants and refugees fleeing war and violence in the Middle East and North Africa.
The Pope’s visit was deeply moving to the refugees. Some broke down in tears, with one man shaking as he asked, “Father, bless me. Please, bless me.”
Children took pictures of the Pope with their phones as he shook hands with those gathered to greet him.
At the port, Francis offered a prayer to God for “all the men, women and children who have died after leaving their homelands in search of a better life.”
“Though many of their graves bear no name, to you each one is known, loved and cherished,” the Pope said.
Europe — and particularly the Greek islands — have been overwhelmed with a tide of migrants as the Syrian Civil war continues to reduce that country to rubble.
In the 24 hours before the Pope’s arrival, 125 migrants and refugees streamed into the Greek islands from Turkey, according to Greek government figures.
And the Pope comforted the refugees he met, sharing a message on empathy.
“I have wanted to be here with you today to speak with you and tell you: You are not alone. You have endured much suffering in your search for a better life,” the Pope said. “You have made great sacrifices for your families.”
Pope: ‘I embrace all in affection.
He comforted the refugees, pledging to “join our voices to speak out” on their behalf.
“May the world, the Good Samaritan, come to your aid with respect for human dignity,” he said. “I embrace all of you in affection. I invoke His gift of strength and peace.”
In explaining his prayers for the refugees and migrants, Francis invoked the name of the Lord.
“I embrace all in affection,” he said. “I invoke His gift of strength and peace.”