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Pope Francis welcomes Barack Obama

Pope Francis welcomed Barack Obama for the first time Thursday morning as reported by Vatican News, however this is President Obama's second visit to Rome. The 44th President of the United States met with Benedict XVI in 2009.

Barack Obama as arrives at the San Damaso courtyard  to meet Pope Francis.
Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty Images

According to Vatican Radio, as Pope Francis greeted Barack Obama, cameras captured the Pontiff with a smile and a “welcome” in which Obama replied, “Thank you, it is wonderful to be here.”

The historic, yet private meeting between Pope Francis and Barack Obama occurred within the Papal Library and lasted approximately 52 minutes. The Associated Press reports the president bowed as the two shook hands in the Small Throne Room and thanked the Pope for the visit to the Vatican.

It is a great honor. I'm a great admirer. Thank you so much for receiving me.

President Barack Obama, the ninth U.S. president to visit the Vatican officially, presented Pope Francis with a seed chest crafted out of leather and wood from the Baltimore Basilica and engraved with the date of the conference. The gift contained fruit and vegetable seeds from the White House Garden in recognition of the Holy Father’s declaration that the gardens of the papal summer residence are now open to the public.

Secretary of State John Kerry, a Catholic, joined the president for the Vatican visit and also declared his veneration to Pope Francis as the Pontiff greeted those present from the Obama administration.

I am a great admirer of everything you've been doing, as a Catholic, for the church.

Prior to his visit with Pope Francis, President Barack Obama was interviewed in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera and touted the “great moral authority” behind the Holy Father’s messages, “when the Pope speaks it carries enormous weight,” despite a difference of opinion on large political issues.

© Deirdre Haggerty, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No part of this article may be reproduced without prior written permission and consent from the author or Clarity Digital Group LLC, DBA more Catholic information and news from the author, click subscribe or follow Deirdre on Twitter, like her on Facebook, read her blog or email her any comments or questions.

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