Vatican City, Jul 6, 2016 / 03:50 am (CNA/EWTN News).
After the tragic death of Beau Solomon in Rome late last week, Pope Francis offered to meet with the young student’s parents, who traveled to the city once they heard that their son was missing. “This morning…around 9a.m. the Pope met with the parents of Beau Solomon, the young American student found dead in the Tiber in the past days,” a July 6 communique from the Holy See Press Office read. Francis, it said, expressed his sentiments of “deep sympathy and compassion,” as well as his closeness in prayer for the youth, who “so tragically passed away.”
Pope Francis’ encounter with the Solomon parents took place shortly before an audience with a group of 200 sick and disabled pilgrims from the French diocese of Lyon, headed by Cardinal Philippe Barbarin. It was just two days after the young student’s body had been found in the Tiber River. Beau, 19, was a sophomore visiting from the University of Wisconsin-Madison for a five week summer study abroad course at Rome’s John Cabot University.
He arrived in the Italian capital Thursday, and was reported missing by his roommate when he failed to show up for an orientation meeting Friday morning. According to reports, Solomon had been with a group of friends at a pub in Rome’s Trastevere neighborhood Thursday night, and was last seen around 1a.m.
In a statement issued Sunday, John Cabot said that on Friday Solomon’s roommate became “worried when he did not see Beau at orientation that morning,” and contacted the school authorities, who then notified the Italian police. Solomon’s body was found in the Tiber River Monday with a head wound. According to the Telegraph, the Beau’s parents had called their son’s credit card company when he went missing, and discovered it had been stolen with roughly 1,500 euros worth of charges. The youth’s cell phone had also been stolen.
On Tuesday Italian police arrested a homeless man, Massimo Galioto, 40, in relation to Beau’s death. According to Italian news agency ANSA, police said the man was detained “as a suspect of the crime, seriously suspected of aggravated homicide.” John Cabot said Tuesday that it was “greatly saddened” by Beau’s death. In the statement, published on the university’s website, they committed to assisting his family and sought to reassure students about their safety in Rome. “There have not been any indications of elevated threats to our students or the local community,” the statement said. “The university continues to work tirelessly to ensure the safety and well-being of all our students.”
As a child Beau had survived a rare form of cancer and in 2005 was able to meet his favorite American football player, Brett Favre, through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. In comments to NBC News before Beau’s body had been found, his older brother, Jake Solomon, said that “in our family, (Beau) is the one who does it all right. He's an incredible athlete. He is the one that keeps us all together.”