The Spanish embassy in Rome today confirmed the visit, saying Zapatero will only visit the Vatican.

This will be the second meeting between Zapatero and Benedict XVI. The first took place in Valencia, Spain, in 2006, in the context of the Pope's visit there for the World Meeting of Families.

Since his election in 2004, Zapatero and the Church have often been at odds over his policies to allow more abortions, to permit same-sex marriages and to end compulsory religious education in public schools.