Pope Francis has had lunch with a group of Syrian refugees who were brought to Italy from the Greek island of Lesbos thanks to the pope's intercession.

The Vatican said Thursday that the pope brought toys and other gifts for the children, who gave him a selection of their drawings. Both the adults and children had the chance to speak with the pontiff "about the beginning of their lives in Italy," the Vatican said.

Francis brought the first group of 12 refugees back with him on the papal plane directly from his April trip to Lesbos, a hotspot in Europe's refugee crisis, saying it was in keeping with the message of humanity that he wanted to send. The refugees are receiving housing from a Catholic charity.