Pope Francis has scheduled a visit to the “Land of Fires,” a southern Italian region polluted by decades of toxic-waste dumping by a local criminal organization.
The Catholic Church announced the Pope’s visit to the Acerra region, northeast of Naples, will happen May 24.
The area is known in history for being one of the cities besieged by the Carthaginian general Hannibal during the Second Punic War.
It is now known as an area with “higher-than-normal” rates of death and cancer due to exposure to the burning of urban and hazardous waste and exposure to contaminants from illegal dumps.
A local criminal organization known as the Camorra mob has long been blamed as the main culprit behind the dumping and the fires.
Pope Francis has condemned and excommunicated the Italian mafia.