Vatican City, 7 June 2015 (VIS) – This afternoon Pope Francis received the president of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, in private audience. The very cordial meeting lasted for more than an hour and a half and took place in the Pope's study next to the Paul VI Hall. The president once again expressed the affection and closeness of the Argentine people to the Pope and asked for his blessing for all their compatriots.
Following the meeting, in the adjacent hall, the Pope greeted the large delegation accompanying the president on her visit, which will continue tomorrow with their attendance at the Conference of the FAO, meetings with the Italian authorities and finally a visit to the EXPO in Milan.
President Fernandez de Kirchner gave the Pope a number of very meaningful gifts: a large painting of the blessed bishop and martyr Oscar Arnulfo Romero by the Argentine artist Eugenio Cuttica; a book by Alberto Methol Ferre, an author greatly admired by the Holy Father (“Los estados continentales y el Mercosur”); an edition of the famous national poem “Martin Fierro”, occasionally quoted by the Pope in his discourses; two bas-reliefs for the blind or partially-sighted, with the title in braille, depicting the Virgin of Lujan, and a portrait of the Pope; a basket of typical Argentine products and a volume on the architectural heritage of Argentina, published on the occasion of the Bicentenary.
The Pope's gift was a reproduction of a beautiful eleventh-century Russian icon representing the “Our Lady of Tenderness”.
This is the fifth time – including the inauguration of Francis' papacy and World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro – that the Argentine president has met with the Holy Father.