"It is a great honor. At the current time we live in it is a very important moment for the French. Thank you."
Their meeting lasted 40 minutes. It was the second time that François Hollande met with Pope Francis at the Vatican.
Before his appointment with the pope, the French president visited the French national church in Rome, St Louis of the French, where he paid his respects in the chapel dedicated to the victims of terrorism. He also saw a portrait in memory of Fr. Jacques Hamel.
The French president said he had visited the pope to thank him and recognize his words and support following the terrorist attacks suffered by France, especially after the murder of Fr. Hamel.
He also wanted to talk to the Pope about the situation of Christians in the Middle East.
After meeting in private, Hollande presented the pope to his delegation.
"The Interior Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve. He was the one who was particularly active during the attacks."
The French president also joked with the pope when introducing his Chief of Protocol.
"The Chief of Protocol is the most important person in a delegation because the protocol is like photographs: torture."
Then came time for the exchanging of gifts. Hollande presented the pope with a Sèvres porcelain bowl, one of the best in Europe. In return, Pope Francis gave him a plaque and three copies of his latest works: the encyclical "Laudato si'” and his exhortations "Evangelii Gaudium” and "Amoris Laetitia.”