Pope Francis and US President Donald Trump spent 30 minutes speaking privately in the library of the Apostolic Palace on 24th May, and as the president left, he told the pope, “I won’t forget what you said.”
The atmosphere at the beginning was formal and a bit stiff. However, the mood lightened when Pope Francis met the first lady, Melania Trump, and asked if she fed her husband “potica,” a traditional cake in Slovenia, her homeland. There were smiles all around.
Pope Francis gave Trump a split medallion held together by an olive tree, which his interpreter told Trump is “a symbol of peace.”
Speaking in Spanish, the pope told Trump, “I am giving you this because I hope you may be this olive tree to make peace.”
The president responded, “We can use peace.”
Pope Francis also gave the president a copy of his message for World Peace Day 2017 and told him, “I signed it personally for you.” In addition, he gave Trump copies of his documents on The Joy of the Gospel, on the family and Laudato Si’ on the environment.
Knowing that Pope Francis has frequently quoted the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr, Trump presented Pope Francis will a large gift box containing five of the slain civil rights leader’s books, including a signed copy of The Strength to Love.
“I think you will enjoy them,” Trump told the pope. “I hope you do.”
Picture: Pope Francis exchanges gifts with US President Donald Trump, accompanied by his wife, Melania, during a private audience at the Vatican on 24th May. (CNS photo/Paul Haring).