Pope Francis praised Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as a true “angel of peace” during a meeting at the Vatican on Saturday.
At the conclusion of an official audience in the Apostolic Palace, the two leaders exchanged gifts, as is tradition after the end of meeting. Francis gave Abbas a special medallion, which he said represented the angel of peace “destroying the bad spirit of war.”
The Pope explained to Abbas that he felt the gift was appropriate since “you are an angel of peace.”
Abbas gave Francis relics of the two new saints.
Abbas is visiting Vatican City over the weekend in honor of the canonization of two new saints who lived during Ottoman-rule Palestine. Marie Alphonsine Ghattas of Jerusalem and Mariam Bawardy of Galilee will become the first Palestinian Arabs to gain sainthood in the Catholic Church.
The ceremony, which will take place Sunday, comes only several day after the Vatican recognized a “State of Palestine” and called for independent Palestinian statehood.
— Reb Mottle (@rebmottle) May 17, 2015
Recognition was bestowed by the Vatican on “Palestine” after the signing of a bilateral agreement that “deals with essential aspects of the life and activity of the Catholic Church in Palestine.”
Israel expressed its disappointment in the Vatican’s decision. A source inside the Foreign Ministry told Israeli media that the agreement and subsequent recognition is harmful to the overall peace process between Israel and the Palestinians “and moves the Palestinian leadership further away from returning to direct bilateral relations.”