The Holy Father Receives Metropolitan Hilarion

Conversation ‘in a Spirit of Fraternity’ with the Representative of Moscow’s Orthodox Patriarchate

Metropolitan Hilarion
(C) Vatican Media

It was the Pontiff himself who announced the imminent meeting with the “Foreign Minister” of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow, Metropolitan Hilarion. The Pope spoke about it during the press conference on the plane, on his return from his trip to Greece. And, as the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, said this morning, before the General Audience, at 7:50 am “Pope Francis met with the Metropolitan of Volokolamsk and President of the Department of External Relations of Moscow’s Patriarchate, His Eminence Hilarion Alfeyev, in the study of Paul VI Hall.

 Fraternal Conversation

 During the conversation held in a spirit of fraternity, some topics were discussed that are of common concern and in face of which there is a common commitment to seek concrete human and spiritual answers.

In the course of the meeting, the Holy Father was able to express his gratitude for the greetings on his 85th birthday, brought by Metropolitan Hilarion in his name and in that of Patriarch Kirill. For his part, the Pontiff expressed sentiments of affection and closeness to the Russian Church and to its Patriarch Kirill, who recently celebrated his 75h birthday, recalling with gratitude the path of fraternity followed together and the conversation they had in Havana in 2016.” No official reference was made to the new possible meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill, to which the Pope made reference in the mentioned press conference. However, it’s probable that they addressed the topic during their conversation.

Exchange of Gifts

 After their conversation, the Pope and Metropolitan exchanged gifts. His Eminence Hilarion gave the Pontiff a splendid icon of Our Lady “of the Sign,” and the Holy Father gave the Metropolitan a mosaic representing Our Lady  Synkatabasis of God.” It is “Our Lady of the Stairs,” She who made the Son of God, Our Saviour, descend, as is written in the custody of the work. The Laboratory of Spiritual Art of the Aletti Center made the mosaic in stone, varnish, and gold. The Pontiff also gave the Metropolitan volumes of papal documents, the 2022 Message of Peace, and the Document on Human Fraternity.

Just before 8:50 am the Pope and Metropolitan took leave of one another.

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester