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Pope Francis meets with Patriarch John X of Antioch, brother of kidnapped bishop

2013-09-27

It was a historic meeting between Pope Francis, the leader of the Catholic Church, and Patriarch John X, the leader of the Orthodox Church of Antioch, one of the oldest Christian communities in the Middle East.

-"I hope that you feel at home.” 
-"Thank you very much.” 

The two leaders exchanged pleasantries before sitting down to speak on a number of serious topics. With the help of an interpreter, Pope Francis and Patriarch John X discussed their desire for Christian unity and the progress of ecumenical dialogue. 

The Church of Antioch is based in the Syrian capital, so both leaders also spoke about the ongoing civil war. It's very personal issue for Patriarch John X, since gunmen kidnapped his brother, Boulos Yazigi, Metropolitan of Aleppo, in April, along with another bishop. They still have no information on their whereabouts or even if they're alive. 

"The dean of the St. John of Damascus Institute of Theology.” 

After their meeting, the Syrian patriarch introduced a few Church leaders that traveled with him. After posing for pictures, they exchanged gifts. Pope Francis gave him a large papal medallion. Meanwhile, Patriarch John X brought along several meaningful gifts, including a Byzantine icon of two very important figures. 

"St. Peter and Paul you know, the founders of our Faith; St. Peter, the founder of your Church.” 

Both the Catholic Church and the Church of Antioch trace their roots to Apostles Peter and Paul. In the back of the icon, the Patriarch of Antioch wrote a personalized message that Pope Francis knows all too well. 

"Keep us in your prayers.” 

In addition to the icon, the Patriarch also gave the Pope a book about monasteries in the Middle East, as well as videos from several of his visits to the area. 

But perhaps the most lasting image of their historic meeting will be this one. As the two leaders pray for each other, before bidding farewell. 

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-JM
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