Pope Francis visits Holocaust survivor Edith Bruck in Rome

Pontiff visits Edith Bruck at her home in Rome.

Pope Francis paid a visit to the Rome home of Edith Bruck, a Holocaust survivor and writer aged almost 90, on the afternoon of 20 February.

Bruck, who has spent most of her adult life in Italy, was born into a poor Jewish family in rural Hungary in 1931.

At the age of 12 she and her family were deported to Auschwitz, and then to other extermination camps: Dachau, Christianstadt, Bergen-Belsen.

In 1945 she was freed by the Allies along with one sister and one brother. Her parents and another brother did not survive the concentration camps.

"I have come here to thank you for your testimony and to pay homage to the people martyred by the insanity of Nazi populism," Pope Francis told her.

Pope Francis with Edith Bruck in Rome

The Vatican said the private visit saw the pontiff and Bruck retrace the “moments of light” in the “hell of the camps” along with the importance of memory and the role of the elderly, as well as the “fears and hopes” of current times.

Pope Francis decided to visit Bruck, who settled in Rome in 1954, after reading her moving testimony in a recent interview with Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.

Bruck has dedicated her life to bearing witness to what she saw, reports Vatican News, after being asked to do so by two strangers at Bergen-Belsen.

"Tell the story. They will not believe you. But if you survive, tell the story, for us too."