Throughout the three and a half years of his pontificate, Pope Francis has met with Shimon Peres more often than any other world leader.
The first meeting took place in April 2013. At the time, the Israeli President invited the pope to visit his country.
"Thank you very much and I'm expecting you in Jerusalem, and not just me, but all the people."
An invitation that was fulfilled because Pope Francis visited the Holy Land in May of the following year. On this occasion, they met at the president's residence and engaged in one of the warmest dialogues between the two.
"Peace is a product of fantasy and inspiration, and you have brought both. We need it.”
"With my imagination and inspiration I would like to invent a new beatitude: which fits to me in this very moment: Blessed who enters the house of a wise and good man. And I feel blessed.”
In Bethlehem, Pope Francis announced an unprecedented proposal to bring together the two leaders of Israel and Palestine to the Vatican to pray together for peace. This initiative was fulfilled a few weeks later, in early June.
President of Israel
"Never will I forget the families, parents and children who paid the cost of war. All my life I shall never stop to act for peace.”
Shimon Peres would return to the Vatican on two other occasions, both as former president. The first was in September 2014. He spoke for 45 minutes about the latest crisis between Israel and Palestine as well as an initiative for the creation of a UN of religions.
The last meeting between the two was in last June.
"How good to see you! Thank you, thank you very much indeed.”
Shimon Peres was about to turn 93 years old. The two leaders looked visibly shaken and the tone of the meeting was very warm. This was his last farewell.