Pope Francis hosts Syrian refugees for lunch at Vatican

Pope Francis hosted lunch for a group of 21 Syrian refugees at Casa Santa Marta, his private residence inside the Vatican, where they received gifts and had the chance to speak with him.

Pope Francis welcomes a group of Syrian refugees after landing at Ciampino airport in Rome following a visit at the Moria refugee camp in the Greek island of Lesbos, April 16, 2016. | Reuters/Filippo Monteforte

According to a report by Christian Today, the Pope and his guests were joined by Substitute Secretary of State Archbishop Angelo Becciù, Professor Andrea Riccardi who is the founder of the Community of Sant'Egidio, Commander of the Vatican Gendarmerie Dr. Domenico Giani, and the two gendarmes assisting the families on the trip from Lesbos to Italy.

The group of refugees, who are currently staying with the Community of Sant'Egidio inside the Vatican, arrived in Italy after the Pope's trip to Greece.

The families arrived in Italy after the visit by Pope Francis to the island of Lesbos in Greece.

The Director of the Holy See press office Greg Burke said in the report, "Both adults and children had an opportunity to speak with Pope Francis about the beginning of their lives in Italy. The children presented the Holy Father with a collection of their drawings, and the Pope presented them with toys and other gifts."

Reports said that there were three families selected to stay in the Vatican. The first family joined the Pope on his flight back from Lesbos and the second family arrived in June. These families were chosen because their papers were in order.

There were two other Christian families included; however, their papers were not ready at that time.

The lunch invitation was meant as a symbolic gesture of solidarity with those who are suffering because of war and persecution, according to a separate report from Christian Today on Pope Francis' trip to Greece. The Pope said on his flight back to Rome, "All refugees are children of God," acknowledging the Holy Spirit's inspiration to take the refugees in.

"I have always said that building walls is not a solution. We saw walls during the last century and they did not resolve anything. We must build bridges. Bridges are built with intelligence, with dialogue, with integration," said the Pope.

Inside Christian Daily