popePope Francis has made a surprise visit to the town of Amatrice, one of the hardest-hit sites of the earthquake which devastated central Italy six weeks ago.

The Vatican revealed the news of his visit after the fact – because he wanted this to be private. “My visit, perhaps, is more of an obstruction than a help,” he said upon his arrival, according to NBC. “I wanted to greet you, but I didn’t want to be an inconvenience, that’s why I let some time pass.”

The pontiff added that he had waited for “some things to be fixed,” before visiting, including the local school. “But since the beginning I felt that I had to come to you, simply to tell you that I am close to you, nothing else, and that I pray for you,” he said.

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