efe-epaVatican City

Swedish teen climate change activist Greta Thunberg met Pope Francis on Wednesday during the weekly general audience in the Vatican.

The pair conversed for a few minutes and 16-year-old Thunberg showed the pontiff a small placard bearing the message "Join the Climate Strike."

Thunberg has been striking from school for months in a bid to raise awareness over climate change and demand governments to act.

Her cause has grown into a global movement, with schoolchildren all over the world joining strikes for climate action.

She and her father, Svante Thunberg, met the Pope in Saint Peter's Square at the end of his audience, when he ventured out into the crowd to greet those gathered for it.

The young activist is visiting Rome for a protest on Friday as part of her climate change initiative.

She arrived to Rome on Wednesday morning a day after giving a speech at an Environment Committee meeting at the European Parliament in Strasburg in which she urged immediate action to save the planet.

"I want you to panic, I want you to act as if the house was on fire," the activist had said.

She added: "I have said those words before, and a lot of people has explained why that is a bad idea. A great number of politicians have told me that panic never leads to anything good. And I agree. To panic, unless you have to, is a terrible idea. But when your house is on fire and you want to keep your house from burning to the ground, then that does require some level of panic.”

On Thursday Thunberg will meet the president of the Italian Senate, Elisabetta Casellati, while on Friday she will lead a student protest in Rome’s Piazza del Popolo.

The student activist began her weekly protest dubbed "School strike for the climate" outside the Swedish parliament in August last year.

By November, her protest had grown into a wider movement, with schoolchildren all over the world ditching classes to call for action to save the planet. EFE-EPA