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Rome Reports

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Putin thanks the pope for the “substantial and interesting conversation”


Vladimir Putin broke his own record and arrived at Via della Conciliazione more than an hour late. The last time he met the pope, he made him wait 50 minutes.

Georg Gänswein, prefect of the pontifical household, received him in the courtyard of St. Damasus. The German bishop accompanied him through the corridors of the Apostolic Palace to the pope's study.

After a cordial struggle to see who could enter the office first, the meeting began. Their third meeting went on for almost an hour. 

After greeting the delegation that accompanied Putin, the two leaders exchanged gifts. 

The Russian president presented Pope Francis with a film about Michelangelo, “Sin” by filmmaker Andrei Konchalovsky.

He is one of our most famous filmmakers. He has been living in Italy for a long time and has a very good relationship with Italy, so he made this film. He asked me to give you this book about the film and, if you have time, to see a little bit of this film. 

He also gave the pope an icon of Sts. Peter and Paul.

Pope Francis presented Vladimir Putin several gifts with the same theme: peace. One was a medallion commemorating the end of the First World War and another his annual message for peace. 

This is the message of peace this year that I signed today for you.

He also gave the president his apostolic exhortations on holiness and on young people, as well as the document he signed in Abu Dhabi on dialogue with Muslims. 

The pope's final gift was a copy of an etching of the Vatican by 18th century Italian artist, Giuseppe Vasi.

So you don't forget Rome...

I will put it in an important place.

At the end of the meeting, Pope Francis gestured to the translator and gave him a rosary before saying goodbye to Putin.

Thank you very much and pray for me.

Thank you for the time you have devoted to me. Thank you also for the very substantial and interesting conversation.

Vladimir Putin did not leave immediately. Afterward, he had another meeting with Vatican's Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, lasting nearly 30 minutes. 

According to the press release issued by the Vatican, Putin and Pope Francis spoke about the situation in Venezuela, Ukraine and Syria.

ALESSANDRO GISOTTI
Vatican Spokesman
“I want to express to you the sincere and joyful satisfaction of the Holy Father with whom I was able to speak to immediately after the meeting with the Russian President. It is customary for the Holy See's communications to say the conversations were cordial. However, I can assure you, after speaking with the Holy Father, it has been like this.”

During the meeting the situation of Catholics in Russia was also discussed and an agreement was signed between the Vatican hospital, Bambino Gesù, and the Russian paediatric hospitals.