King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia met today with Pope Francis, their first meeting as the newly crowned monarchs of Spain. The Holy Father received the king and queen at the Vatican Apostolic Palace.
Prior to resigning from the throne, the former King of Spain, Juan Carlos I, met with the Pope in April. During that meeting, a light-hearted moment took place when both the former king and the Pope tried to let the other pass in front of them. Pope Francis, jokingly said, “El monaguillo primero” (“The altar boy first”) to which King Juan Carlos laughed.
After greeting the Holy Father, King Felipe preceded the Pope into his office, repeating the Pope’s words to his father: “El monaguillo primero”, to which Francis laughed and replied, “Ah, your father told you!”
Pope Francis and the King and Queen of Spain, then spoke privately for almost 45 minutes.
After the meeting, the traditional exchange of gifts took place. King Felipe VI gave the Pope a copy of a book written by the famed 17th century Spanish Jesuit Baltasar Gracián entitled “Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia” (Oracle Manual and the Art of Prudence). Only two original copies of this work exist in the world, one in Spain and the other in Lujan, in the Pope’s native Argentina.
For his part, the Holy Father gave the King a medallion depicting the original project of St. Peter’s Square, which was planned to have three colonnades surround the Basilica. Francis also gave him a copy of his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium.
Pope Francis then gave each member of the royal entourage a rosary. Sources present at the meeting said that upon seeing that a photographer accompanying the royal couple did not receive a rosary, the Holy Father walked towards a closet containing rosaries, and brought one to him. Many, including the photographer, were touched at the simple gesture of the Pope.
Concluding their meeting, the King and Queen of Spain invited Pope Francis to come to Spain, expressing their hope that the Pope would visit the country next year for the 5th centenary of the birth of St. Teresa of Avila.
After their meeting, King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia met with the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, an encounter that lasted for 35 minutes. King Felipe and Cardinal Parolin have known each other since first meeting at the funeral of President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, where the Italian prelate served as papal nuncio.
Among the major issues discussed were those related to the aftermath of the economic crisis, particularly the effects on youth and unemployment.
As King of Spain, Felipe VI also holds the honorific title of “King of Jerusalem”. Sources at the meeting stated that the Spanish king spoke for several minutes with the Secretary of State on the Pope’s recent trip to the Holy Land.
The meeting concluded with the Spanish monarchs conveying again their hopes of a papal visit to Spain, telling Cardinal Parolin that given the country’s close proximity, an apostolic visit would be relatively easier to take place.