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By F. Brinley Bruton and Claudio Lavanga

ROME — Pope Francis met Wednesday with the grieving parents of Beau Solomon, the American college student found dead in a Rome river.

A picture of the encounter shows the pope standing close to the 19-year-old's clearly distraught parents, who have been named in the media as Jodi and Nick Solomon.

Pope Francis meets with the parents of U.S. college student Beau Solomon, whose body was found in Rome's Tiber River days after he arrived in Italy for a study abroad program.Osservatore Romano

Francis expressed "feelings of deepest sympathy and compassion, and his closeness in prayer to the Lord for the young man who died so tragically," according to a short statement released after the meeting.

The pope's unscheduled, private meeting with the Solomons came before Francis held an audience with French pilgrims in a Vatican auditorium.

Beau Solomon — who had conquered childhood cancer — vanished less than 24 hours after arriving in Italy on Thursday for summer classes.

The visiting student from the University of Wisconsin-Madison was last seen about 1 a.m. on Friday (7 p.m. ET Thursday) while at a pub.

When Solomon disappeared, the group of students he had been with tried to call him but couldn't get through, according to the president of John Cabot University, the small Rome-based liberal arts college where the teen was due to study.

The sophomore’s body was found in the Tiber River on Monday and on Tuesday police charged a homeless man with his murder.

Related: Studying Abroad Can Be Deadly, Grieving Moms Warn

After the disappearance, Solomon's parents called their son's credit card company and "realized thousands of dollars had been charged" to his account in Milan, according to Jake Solomon, his brother. Milan is about 350 miles north of Rome.

Beau Solomon (second from right) with his family. Solomon, a 20-year-old visiting student from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, arrived in Italy on Thursday. He was reported missing the following morning by his roommate.Courtesy family
The Associated Press contributed.