Pope Francis flew in to a papal residence near Rome on Saturday for an unprecedented encounter with “pope emeritus” Benedict XVI — the first time a pontiff has met his predecessor.
The talks round off a historic few weeks for the Roman Catholic Church after Benedict became the first pope to resign in over 700 years and only the second to do so by choice in 2,000 years.
The last pope to resign — Celestine V in 1294 — was locked up and perhaps killed off by his successor Boniface VIII and there is no record of the two ever meeting post-resignation.
Highlighting the unusual nature of the encounter, both men are expected to wear white papal vestments since Benedict has been allowed to continue wearing his pontifical robes as well as using the title “Your Holiness”.
Francis has paid homage to Benedict and has called him twice since becoming pope. Benedict, before he stepped down, pledged allegiance to his successor.
Portrait of condoms
A US artist has sparked a controversy after she created a portrait of former Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI out of 17,000 condoms.
25-year-old artist Niki Johnson’s latest piece, Eggs Benedict, was inspired by the now-retired Pope’s speech on AIDS in 2009 in which he said promoting condoms increased HIV prevalence.