Vatican City, 23 March 2013 (VIS) – At noon today, the Holy Father Francis travelled by helicopter to Castel Gandolfo to meet and have lunch with Pope emeritus Benedict XVI. Accompanying Benedict XVI to greet Pope Francis on his arrival were Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano, Italy, and Dr. Saverio Petrillo, director of the Pontifical Villas.

This is the first time that the Church is experiencing a meeting between the Pope and an Emeritus Pope. Even though the two have spoken by telephone several times since Pope Francis' election as the 266th Pope ten days ago, this is the first time that they are meeting face to face. Although live coverage of the historic event will not be provided, the Press Office of the Holy See has announced that there will be an official photo of the two together in the library of the Castel Gandolfo Apostolic Palace. (When available, the photo will be published on the VIS blogsite at:

After meeting privately and sharing lunch, the Holy Father Francis is scheduled to return to the Vatican this afternoon, again by helicopter.

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