Pope Francis made an unannounced visit in Amatrice, the city devastated by an earthquake a month and a half ago. Excited, residents, rescuers and authorities talked to the Pontiff, who told them he had not visited them before because he did not want to disturb them.

Pope Francis said a few days ago that he would go to Amatrice, without indicating the exact day. So on Tuesday everyone was taken by surprise.

‘I have not come so far because I did not want to be a burden. I preferred to wait to advance to the restoration, like this school. But from the first moment I would have come with you, just to say I am next to you, nothing more, and I pray for you. Closeness and prayer, these are my gifts for you,’ said Pope Francis on the spot.

The Pope traveled incognito to Amatrice – in an ordinary car, a brand popular with tinted windows. After meeting with the residents and members of the civil protection teams, Pope Francis visited the so-called red zone of Amatrice, where the public has no access after the earthquake, because it was too dangerous – everything around was destroyed.

An earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale occurred in central Italy on August 24, 2016, at 3:36 the local time, near Norcia, a town in the province of Perugia. The quake was followed by several aftershocks, the strongest being 5.5.

Italy’s Civil Protection Agency described the quake as ‘severe’. Amatrice city of the Rieti province was the most affected by the earthquake. There, many of the historic buildings have collapsed. The earthquake and its replicas were felt in large areas of central Italy, including Rome, Naples, and Florence.