Pope Francis visited the former Auschwitz-Birkenau camp today (July 29), paying tribute to the 1.1 million people—mostly Jews—who were killed in that notorious Nazi concentration camp during World War II.
During the visit, he walked alone and prayed in silence, visited the cell of a Polish Catholic priest who sacrificed his own life to save that of another prisoner, and met with survivors. He walked through the camp’s haunting main gates, emblazoned with the words ”Arbeit Macht Frei”—work sets you free.
The Pope wanted the visit to be held in silence, according to the Guardian. He said:
I would like to go to that place of horror without speeches, without crowds—only the few people necessary. Alone, enter, pray. And may the Lord give me the grace to cry.
The emotional visit came days after the Pope responded to the brutal murder of a priest in Normandy, France, by declaring that “the world is at war because it has lost peace.”
In 1998, the Vatican issued an apology on behalf Catholics for failing to speak out against the Nazi holocaust.
Here are some of the compelling images from the Pope’s visit.