Addressing Igor Seergevich Rimmer and his delegation, in Russian, the Pope said that the gesture testifies “to the sentiments of reciprocal care and intense relations that St. Petersburg and the Apostolic See have had through the three centuries since the city’s foundation.”
St. Petersburg, formally known as Leningrad, and the birthplace of President Vladimir Putin, celebrated the third centenary of its foundation at the end of May 2003. The event culminated with a meeting of more than 40 heads of state and government.
“In St. Petersburg, gate which introduces the great country of the Russian Federation, everything speaks of the fruitful cultural, spiritual, artistic and human dialogue between Western Europe and Europe of the East,” the Holy Father said when receiving his guests.
He added: “I express the desire that this constructive attitude of openness will continue to exercise its positive influence for the benefit of reciprocal understanding between peoples of different human, religious and spiritual traditions.”