Pope Meets Zuzana Čaputová, Pres. of Slovakia

Courtesy Visit in Bratislava’s Presidential Palace

Pope Zuzana Čaputová
The Pope with the President of Slovakia, September 13, 2021 © Vatican Media

© Vatican Media

Pope Francis today visited the President of the Slovak Republic, Zuzana Čaputová. After celebrating Holy Mass in private, the Holy Father continued his 34th Apostolic Journey leaving the Apostolic Nunciature of Bratislava, Slovakia, to go by car to the capital’s Presidential Palace. On his arrival, at about 9:15 am, he was welcomed by President Čaputová and took part in a welcome ceremony.

The Holy See reported that two children presented bread and salt to the Holy Father as traditional signs, an event that preceded the singing of hymns and the presentation of Delegations and the Guard of Honour. Then the Pontiff and the Slovak President went to the Golden Hall of the Presidential Palace to hold the courtesy visit.

“As a pilgrim in Bratislava, I embrace the Slovak people affectionately and I pray for this country of ancient roots and young face so that it is a message of fraternity and peace in the heart of Europe,” the Holy Father wrote in the Book of Honour.

After signing the Book and the meeting of a private nature, President Čaputová accompanied the Pope to the adjacent Green Room, where she introduced him to her family and the exchange of gifts took place. Then they went to the Palace’s garden for the meeting with the Authorities, the Representatives of the Civil Society, and the Member of the Diplomatic Corps.

Pope Francis’ Gift to the President

Papa Čaputová presidenta Eslovaquia
© Vatican Media

The Bishop of Rome gave the Slovak President a tile with the Pontifical Medal. In the center of the medal, enriched with textures, is Our Lady of Seven Sorrows, Patroness of Slovakia. Behind the image is a double cross, one of the country’s symbols. On the reverse side is the date of the Apostolic Journey to the country.

Zuzana Čaputová

Was born in Bratislava in 1973. She graduated from the Faculty of Law of the capital’s Comenius University in 1996. She collaborated with the Via Iurus Civic Association from 2001 to 2017 and, since 2010 as a lawyer, to promote the effective functioning of the judicial system, transparency in the management of the public patrimony, and greater control of power.

For more than 10 years she headed a public campaign in Pezinok, against the authorization of a new dump that infringes the environmental normative. She announced her affiliation to the Progressive Slovakia political party and, in January of 2018, was elected Vice-President of the party’s first congress, a post she gave up in 2019 to run in the presidential elections.

© Vatican Media

She was elected President of the Slovak Republic on March 30, 2019, in the second round of the elections. Mrs. Čaputová has two daughters.

The Presidential Palace

 The Grassalkovich Palace has been the Presidential Residence of Slovakia since 1996. Architect András Mayerhoffer built the capital’s emblematic building in 1760 for Count Antal Grassalkovich, Hungarian noble and President of Hungary’s Royal Chamber. Later he became Prince and Adviser of Empress Maria Teresa of Austria.

© Vatican Media

The Palace, with its late Baroque and Rococo style and its’ central location in front of Hodzovo Namestie Square, recounts the turbulent history of the present Slovak Republic. Its luxurious halls and Chapel, decorated with frescoes by Austrian Joseph von Pichler, have witnessed its numerous changes: the center of Bratislava’s musical life, where Joseph Haydn premiered his first opera, German General Headquarters during World War II and main headquarters of the Pioneers and Youths of Klement Gottwald during Communism.

With the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989, the Palace was restored and its gardens transformed into a popular public park. A meeting point of the capital is the modern fountain by architect Tibor Bartfay, in front of the Palace’s entrance. It represents the globe adorned with doves in bas-relief as symbols of peace. Not far away is the former Archbishop’s Palace, headquarters of the Slovak Government.

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester