(Updated 3:37 p.m. EDT)
By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Meeting the grieving parents of a U.S. student who was found dead in Rome, Pope Francis mourned the death of the teenager, who had been set to begin a study-abroad program.
Beau Solomon, 19, was found dead in the Tiber River July 4 after friends reported last seeing him early July 1.
The pope met with Nick and Jodi Solomon, members of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Spring Green, Wisconsin, July 6, in a private audience. He expressed his “deepest sympathy and compassion” as well as his closeness to them in his prayers “for the young man who died so tragically,” according to a Vatican press release.
The student from the University of Wisconsin-Madison had arrived in Rome June 30 to study at John Cabot University. However, he disappeared less than 24 hours later after spending the evening with friends at a Rome pub, according to the Associated Press.
More than $1,000 had been charged to the student’s credit card after his disappearance, AP reported.
Italian police were investigating the cause and circumstances of his death and arrested a homeless man in connection with the case.
Solomon had survived cancer as a child, the family said.
In a statement issued July 6, Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison said: “As a faith community back here in Wisconsin, I know that all of us, and especially the parishioners at St. John the Evangelist in Spring Green, are here to provide whatever comfort and support we can to the Solomon family. We ask for prayers for the repose of Beau Solomon’s soul, and for God’s peace for all those who mourn him.”
The bishop also commented on Pope Francis taking time to console Solomon’s parents.
“I am so very grateful to our Holy Father for this tremendous gesture of kindness and pastoral solicitude to a family in grief,” Bishop Morlino said. “This is one of Pope Francis’ greatest strengths — acting as a loving pastor to individuals in time of need.