March 8, 2021

The Pope and Putin met for almost an hour in the Vatican

Pope Francis met for almost an hour at the Vatican with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who thanked the conversation, which he described as "substantial and interesting".

The meeting had begun almost an hour late, as in his previous two visits to Pope Francis.

Putin arrived in the so-called Sala del Tronetto of the apostolic palace after 2:15 p.m. (12.15 GMT), where the Pope greeted him with a smile and a handshake and they accessed the library where the private meeting took place.

Without a word, the Pope waited for the photographers to leave to start the meeting with the help of a translator.

The Russian president had arrived at the Vatican directly from the Rome airport with a convoy of about 30 vehicles and a delegation comprising some ministers, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who held a separate meeting at the Secretary of State.

Later during the usual exchange of gifts, Putin gave the pope the film "Sin" (sin) directed by the Russian Andréi Konchalovski about the life of Michelangelo and a book with the images of the film.

Putin explained to Francisco that the author gave him the film so that the pontiff, "if he had a minute," could see it. He also gave him a huge icon with the figures of Saint Peter and Saint Paul and reminded him that while Catholics celebrate them June 29 for the Orthodox, their party is on July 12, since they are still using the Julian calendar.

For his part, Francisco gave the Russian president a commemorative medal that had been made in the Vatican on the occasion of the centenary of the end of the First World War (1914-1918); two of his exhortations "Gaudate et Exultate" and "Christus Vivit" and his last message for the Day of Peace and the document on the Human Brotherhood that he signed in Abu Dhabi and that, explained the Pope, "talks about dialogue with Islam "

Francisco also gave him a seventeenth-century engraving of St. Peter's Square "so he does not forget Rome," he told Putin.

After the presentation of the delegation and the official photos, both went to the exit of the library and the Pope thanked him for the visit and asked him to pray for him.

While Putin thanked Francisco for the time spent and the conversation "substantial and interesting".

The topics discussed during the audience are normally communicated by the Vatican later.

Putin also held another subsequent meeting with the Vatican secretary of state, Pietro Parolin.

During the afternoon, the Russian president will hold meetings with his Italian counterpart, Sergio Mattarella, and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and will participate in a dinner with the two vice-president, Matteo Salvini and Luigi di Maio.

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