Benedict XVI Receives President of Iceland

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 4, 2011 ( Benedict XVI received in audience today the president of Iceland, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson.

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A Vatican communique released after the meeting reported that the conversation between the Pope and the president was “cordial,” and that it “served to highlight the good relations between Iceland and the Apostolic See that have been in force for a millennium.”

“Attention then turned to the esteem enjoyed by the small Catholic community in the country,” the note continued, “as well as to its valid contribution to the society of Iceland, with its initiatives in the field of education and social work, particularly in the present economic situation.”

According to the press statement, the Holy Father and Olafur spoke of “the role of traditional values in the construction of the nation and the contribution of Iceland to the promotion of peace, to the development of peaceful coexistence among various communities and for the safeguard of the environment.”

The president of Iceland gave the Holy Father a sculpture of Gudridur Thorbjarnardottir, whom the Vatican note called “a pioneer of the Christian faith on the Island.” The sculpture commemorated a pilgrimage Gudridur made to Rome in 1000 to meet with the Successor of Peter.

President Olafur subsequently went on to meet with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Benedict XVI’s secretary of state, who was accompanied by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, secretary for relations with states.

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