Pope Francis met Wednesday with the grieving parents of an American exchange student killed in Rome, solidifying his reputation as a man committed to comforting troubled families and communities.
"The pope expressed his feelings of deep sympathy and compassion and his closeness in prayer to the Lord for the young man who died so tragically," said the top Vatican spokesman, according to The Washington Post.
Beau Solomon, a 19-year-old student at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, was found dead on Monday after disappearing during his first night in Italy.
"Cole Solomon, 23, said that when his brother's body was pulled Monday from the Tiber River, he had a head wound and a blood-stained shirt — as well as thousands of dollars of illicit charges on his credit cards," the Post reported.
A homeless man has been charged with murder, according to NBC News.
The pope's meeting with Nick and Jodi Solomon was private, but news of the gathering quickly grabbed international headlines.
Pope Francis has previously held high-profile meetings with politicians and technology superstars like the CEO of Apple. However, the Catholic leader is best known for meeting with people in need like the Solomons.
In April, he met with refugees on the island of Lesbos, Greece, urging them to remain hopeful in spite of their challenges, America Magazine reported.
"Francis greeted 150 young refugees along the barricades inside the camp, then another 250 of them gathered in a tent, and then many more who called out to him," the article noted. "Amid scenes of great emotion, Francis' face alternated between expressions of intense joy as he shook young hands or bowed to veiled Muslim women, and immense pain and sadness as he listened to their sad stories."
"I have wanted to be with you today. I want to tell you that you are not alone," the pope said.
Additionally, Pope Francis met with survivors of clergy sexual abuse and prisoners during his visit to the U.S. in September 2015, CNN reported at the time.
"I am here as a pastor, but above all as a brother, to share your situation and to make it my own," said the pope during his prison visit. "I have come so that we can pray together and offer our God everything that causes us pain, but also everything that gives us hope, so that we can receive from him the power of resurrection."
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