Pope Francis has met 20 women from six countries who have been freed from prostitution as part of his Holy Year of Mercy activities focusing on communities that have experienced suffering.

The Vatican said the meeting Friday was a call to combat human trafficking, which the pope has defined as "an open wound on the body of contemporary society, a scourge upon the body of Christ."

The Vatican said all of the women, whose average age was around 30, had suffered great physical violence and live under protection. They were from Romania, Albania, Nigeria, Tunisia, Italy and Ukraine.

The pope has dedicated Fridays throughout the Holy Year to the suffering, including visiting Syrian refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos and praying silently at the Auschwitz-Birkenau former Nazi death camp.