New Pope Francis meets predecessor Benedict XVI

New Pope Francis meets predecessor Benedict XVI

  • Posted: Mar 23, 2013
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The new Pontiff has been to see his predecessor Benedict XVI at the papal residence of Castel Gandolfo.

Francis meets predecessor Benedict XVI

Pope Francis embraces predecessor Benedict XVI

The Argentine pope was carried by helicopter from the Vatican to the papal residence of Castel Gandolfo, near Rome, where Benedict, the “pope emeritus”, has been living since his resignation last month.

It is belived to be the first meeting between a pope and a former pope for the Catholic Church

The two men dressed in white embraced warmly on the helipad in the gardens of Castel Gandolfo after Pope Francis’ arrival.

Travelling from the helipad to the palazzo, Francis sat on the right-hand side of the car, the traditional place of the pope, while Benedict sat on the left.

When they entered the chapel inside the palazzo to pray, Benedict tried to direct Francis to the papal kneeler at the front of the chapel, but Francis refused.

“No, we are brothers, we pray together,” Francis told Benedict, according to the Vatican spokesman the Reverend Federico Lombardi.

The two used a different kneeler in the pews and prayed together, side-by-side.

Francis gave a gift to Benedict, which was an icon of Madonna known as the “Madonna of Humility”.

“I thought of you,” Francis told Benedict. “You gave us so many signs of humility and gentleness in your pontificate.” Benedict replied: “Grazie, grazie.”

Outside the villa, the main piazza of Castel Gandolfo was packed with well-wishers bearing photos of both popes and chanting “Francesco! Francesco!”

But the Vatican made clear they probably wouldn’t see anything.

The Vatican spokesman stated the two spoke privately for 40-45 minutes, followed by lunch with the two papal secretaries, but no details were released.

Benedict has been staying at the lakeside estate since he became the first Pontiff to step down in more than 700 years.

Italian media reported ahead of the meeting that Benedict, who stunned the world on February 11 by announcing that he was too frail in body and mind to carry on, has prepared a 300-page handwritten memorandum for his successor.

Benedict intends to live “hidden from the world” as a “simple pilgrim” and will spend the rest of his life in a former nunnery on Vatican grounds in quiet contemplation and academic research.

Benedict has been living in Castel Gandolfo with his secretary Georg Gaenswein and with the four housekeepers who looked after him when he was still the leader of the world’s 1.2bn Catholics.

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