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Rome Reports

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Pope Francis and French president Emmanuel Macron meet for 57 minutes


Emmanuel Macron and his wife were welcomed on the St. Damasus Patio by Msgr. Georg Gänswein, prefect of the Papal Household. 

Later, in the most formal of manners, the president and his entourage headed to the room where Pope Francis awaited. 

Brigitte Macron, the president's wife, spent the whole walk closely observing the Apostolic Palace's decor. 

Macron met with the Holy Father nearly 10 minutes later than scheduled. 

“Mr. President, welcome.”

“Thank you very much.”

The pope and the president met in private for nearly an hour. The 57 minutes Macron spent with Pope Francis become the longest time the Holy Father has spent with the leader of a nation. 

There were many issues on the table, such as the environment, a topic that concerns both men following the United States' exit from the Paris Agreement; the situation of religious minorities in the Middle East; current conflicts like those of the Democratic Republic of Congo or the Central African Republic; and also, certainly the migration crisis in the Mediterranean that is polarizing countries such as Italy and France. 

Following the encounter came the greetings. The president introduced the pope to his wife, Brigitte Macron. 

Then, to his minister of the interior and minister of foreign affairs, who is a Breton. Macron, in a casual tone, joked with Pope Francis, saying he's surrounded by Bretons. 

“There are Bretons everywhere. They're the French mafia.”

The French president invited representatives from organizations who assist the most disadvantaged to this encounter. For example, the president of Caritas France, who gave the Holy Father an activities report. 

During the exchanging of gifts, Macron presented Pope Francis with a copy of Bernanos' 1949 work, “Diary of a Country Priest.” The pope was greatly pleased. 

For his part, the Holy Father gave the French leader an engraving of St. Martin of Tours sharing his cloak with a poor man. He also gave him the main documents from his papacy, including his exhortation on holiness, which the pope explained to Macron in French.

“The middle class of holiness.”

Following the formal photos, Pope Francis gave one last gift, his message for the World Day of Peace. 

Although the greeting was very reserved and ceremonial, the farewell was much warmer. Macron received the pope's usual request. 

“Thank you very much. May the Lord bless you. Pray for me.”

An emotional president shook the Holy Father's hands and bid farewell with two kisses.