Pope Francis paid a silent visit to Auschwitz, and the photos are powerful.

From 1942 to 1944, at least 1.1 million people were killed at the Nazi concentration camp known as Auschwitz.

Many of us learn about this in history class or see the horrifying grainy, black and white photographs of human beings lined up for execution.

Images like those are haunting and important to see, but no experience can come close to actually visiting the camp, which now operates as a memorial to those who were killed inside its gates.



The German phrase above the entrance gate translates to "Work sets you free." Photo by Keystone/GettyImages.

On July 29, 2016, Pope Francis visited Auschwitz for the first time. He didn't speak a single word on record, but the images of his visit speak for themselves.

Auschwitz was home to one of the darkest chapters in modern human history, and today it's a reminder of the ugliness of hate.

More than 70 years after Auschwitz was liberated, there are still many who deny that the Holocaust ever happened. In 2016, we're dealing with an ongoing refugee crisis and vocal anti-immigrant sentiment as the result of xenophobia rocketing through Europe and the United States — stark reminders that the ugliness of hate is not something left in the past.

The striking visual of the Pope walking alone, his head hung low in somber prayer and reflection, through streets that were once filled with the dead and the dying, shows how very real it was.

Pope Francis entering Auschwitz. Photo by Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images.

His visit is a reminder that we shouldn't ever let this happen again.

Photo by Janek Skarzynski/AFP/Getty Images.

Pope Francis spent the first minutes of his visit to Auschwitz sitting on a bench praying, according to a report in The Guardian.

Photo by Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images.

He also spent several minutes alone in the cell of Maximilian Kolbe, a priest who volunteered to take the place of a prisoner selected for death. Kolbe died on Aug. 14, 1941, and was later canonized by Pope John Paul II.

Pope Francis met and prayed with several Holocaust survivors, paid a visit to neighboring concentration camp Birkenau, and prayed with Poland's chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich.

Photo by Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images.

Before leaving, he signed the guestbook with a simple and powerful message that speaks to religion as something that should bring us together, not set us apart.

“Lord, have pity on your people," Pope Francis wrote. "Lord, forgive so much cruelty.”

Photo by Janek Skarzynski/AFP/Getty Images.


More
via James Anderson

Two years ago, a tweet featuring the invoice for a fixed boiler went viral because the customer, a 91-year-old woman with leukemia, received the services for free.

"No charge for this lady under any circumstances," the invoice read. "We will be available 24 hours to help her and keep her as comfortable as possible."

The repair was done by James Anderson, 52, a father-of-five from Burnley, England. "James is an absolute star, it was overwhelming to see that it cost nothing," the woman's daughter told CNN.

Keep Reading Show less
Heroes

I live in a family with various food intolerances. Thankfully, none of them are super serious, but we are familiar with the challenges of finding alternatives to certain foods, constantly checking labels, and asking restaurants about their ingredients.

In our family, if someone accidentally eats something they shouldn't, it's mainly a bit of inconvenient discomfort. For those with truly life-threatening food allergies, the stakes are much higher.

I can't imagine the ongoing stress of deadly allergy, especially for parents trying to keep their little ones safe.

Keep Reading Show less
LUSH

Handmade cosmetics company Lush is putting its money where its mouth is and taking a bold step for climate change action.

On September 20 in the U.S. and September 27 in Canada, Lush will shut the doors of its 250 shops, e-commerce sites, manufacturing facilities, and headquarters for a day, in solidarity with the Global Climate Strike taking place around the world. Lush is encouraging its 5000+ employees "to join this critical movement and take a stand until global leaders are forced to face the climate crisis and enact change."

Keep Reading Show less
Planet
Photo by Annie Bolin on Unsplash

Recent tragic mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton have sparked a lot of conversation and action on the state level over the issue of gun control. But none may be as encouraging as the most recent one, in which 145 CEOs signed a letter urging the U.S. Senate to take action at their level.

Keep Reading Show less
popular