Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
 / Updated 

A small bomb exploded close to a French church in Rome in the early hours of Friday hours before French President Francois Hollande was due to visit Pope Francis, Italian police said.

A police spokesman told Agence France-Presse that no one had claimed responsibility for the blast, which happened during a time of tight security at the Vatican ahead of the visit.

"A handmade bomb went off at 2:30 a.m. (8.30 p.m. ET), damaging three parked cars and the windows of a nearby building," the spokesman told the news agency.

The explosion happened in Vicolo della Campana and an official at the secretariat of France's embassy to the Holy See said the small street only had the church of Saint-Yves des Breton and a restaurant on it.