25 October 2016

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Pope Francis visits Auschwitz

The pope travelled to Auschwitz, 70 km from Poland's Krakow, on Friday morning.

The pope had in June announced that he would not deliver an address at the Auschwitz camp.

Talking to reporters, the pontiff said at the time that he wanted to go to that "place of horror" with a minimal entourage.

"May the Lord give me the grace of crying," the pope added.

There pontiff met with former prisoners and for about ten minutes prayed, alone at the bench, for the victims of the terrible tragedy.

Pope Francis also walked through the gate with the inscription "Arbeit Macht Frei".

A group of twelve former prisoners of the German concentration camp at Auschwitz and the head of Polish government met the pontiff near the Wall of Death in the unit block 11. In front of block 11, also known as the "death block", the Pope left a symbolic candle, which was handed to him by one of the former prisoners.

The Pope prayed in the cell of Polish Franciscan monk Father Maksymilian Kolbe, who died in Auschwitz, giving his life for one of the prisoners.

Then Francis went to the extermination camp Auschwitz II, or Birkenau, where he was met by some 1,000 people.

Pontiff rode in his electric vehicle from the so-called Gate of Death along the railway line to the International memorial to the victims of the concentration camp.

Also, the Pope walked along the memorial and left lighted candles.

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