The Vatican press office announced today that the Pope had readily accepted “the kind invitation of the president of the republic of Italy, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, and will make an official visit to the Quirinal on Friday, April 29, feast of Saint Catherine of Siena, patroness of Italy.”
It will be the fourth time that John Paul II visits a president of Italy.
The Pope visited in June 1984, January 1986 and October 1998 during the respective presidencies of Sandro Pertini, Francesco Cossiga and Oscar Luigi Scalfaro.
The Pope and President Ciampi have met 11 times since their first meeting in 1993 when Ciampi was the prime minister.
They have developed a friendship over the years. Both were born in 1920 and both celebrate their name day on Nov. 4, feast of St. Charles. On that day they usually telephone each other. On Jan. 16 Ciampi lunched at the Vatican, at John Paul II’s invitation.