Russian President Vladimir Putin was received in the Vatican Apostolic Palace by Pope Francis this evening.
The meeting is the first between the Russian head of state and the Holy Father.
During the meeting, which was said to have lasted roughly 35 minutes, President Putin and the Holy Father discussed several topics of interest, including the fundamental contribution of Christianity in Russia.
A communique released by the Holy See stated that particular attention was placed on current situation in the Middle East, especially in Syria. President Putin, the communique cotinued, expressed thanks for the letter addressed to him by the Holy Father on the occasion of the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg.”
“They underlined the urgent need to end the violence and to bring necessary humanitarian assistance to the population, as well as promoting concrete initiatives for a peaceful solution to the conflict, which privileges the path of negotiation and involves the various ethnic and religious components, recognizing their indispensable role in society.”
At the traditional exchange of gifts between the two leaders, the Holy Father gave the Russian President a mosaic of the Vatican gardens. Presenting his gifts, President Putin gave the Holy Father an icon of the Madonna of Vladimir, an image venerated by Russian Orthodox Christians.
“Do you like the icon?,” President Putin asked the Pope, to which he simply replied: “Yes.” Sources present at the meeting said that the Russian president then made the sign of the cross and kissed the icon, to which Pope Francis followed and kissed the image as well.
Following the meeting, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, briefed journalists, noting that the meeting was “cordial” and “constructive”. Fr. Lombardi also said Pope Francis expressed his gratitude to President Putin who conveyed the greetings of the Patriarch of Moscow, Kirill I.
The director of the Holy See Press Office confirmed that there was no discussion whatsoever of a possible papal visit to Russia in the future.