Pope Francis paid a surprise visit to 20 former prostitutes, including seven Nigerians, on Friday.
The women all aged about 30 told the Pope about their lives of forced prostitution
The 266th and current Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, has surprised 20 former prostitutes rescued from their pimps and are being given shelter and protection at an apartment run by a Catholic charity in Italy's capital, by popping in for a visit at their safe house in Rome.
According to the BBC, the pontiff for more than an hour, sat down and had a chat with the women, some trafficked from Africa and elsewhere in Europe, including seven Nigerians, six Romanians, four Albanians, one Italian, Tunisian and one from Ukraine, and listened to their stories of forced prostitution, the Vatican said.
The Pope chatted to the 20 women from six countries for more than an hour
The 79-year-old cleric who has repeatedly described human trafficking as a "crime against humanity", encouraged the former s*x workers "to be strong" as they started their new lives with the help of the Pope John XXIII Community.
They were all aged about 30 and had "suffered serious physical abuse" and now lived under protection, the Vatican said.
Promising women jobs, traffickers bring them to Italy and other western European countries but then force them into prostitution.
The unannounced visit to the prostitutes came under what the Vatican terms the Pope's "Fridays of Mercy", focusing on communities that have experienced suffering.