Pope Francis on Saturday took 12 Syrian refugees, all of them Muslim, back with him to the Vatican after an emotional and provocative trip to Greece.
The three families, including six children, boarded the papal jet after the pope’s visit to a refugee detention center on the Greek island of Lesbos.
The Vatican said in a statement that Pope Francis wanted to "make a gesture of welcome" to the refugees.
Thousands of migrants are now stuck on Lesbos after last month’s agreement between the EU and Turkey to return migrants, the BBC reported.
Francis told refugees living in the Moria camp “you are not alone,” according to the BBC.
The Vatican will take responsibility for supporting the families.
The pontiff is already hosting two refugee families at the Vatican, so the gesture would be in keeping with Francis' call for Europe to open its hearts and borders to those most in need.
The pope visited the island of Lesbos alongside the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians and the head of the Church of Greece to thank Greece for its welcome and highlight the plight of refugees following the controversial EU deal.
Many refugees fell to their knees and wept at Francis' feet as he and the two Orthodox leaders approached them at the Moria detention center. Others chanted "Freedom! Freedom!" as they passed by. Francis bent down as one young girl knelt at his feet sobbing uncontrollably. A woman told the pope that her husband was in Germany, but that she was stuck with her two sons in Lesbos.
In his remarks to them, Francis said the refugees should know that they are not alone and shouldn't lose hope. He said he wanted to visit them to hear their stories and to bring the world's attention to their plight.
"We hope that the world will heed these scenes of tragic and indeed desperate need, and respond in a way worthy of our common humanity," he said. "May all our brothers and sisters on this continent, like the Good Samaritan, come to your aid in the spirit of fraternity, solidarity and respect for human dignity that has distinguished its long history."
Earlier Saturday, Francis met Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and thanked him for the "generosity" shown by the Greek people in welcoming foreigners despite their own economic troubles, the Vatican said.
Tsipras, for his part, said he was proud of Greece's response "at a time when some of our partners — even in the name of Christian Europe — were erecting walls and fences to prevent defenseless people from seeking a better life."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.