President to meet Pope Francis in Vatican

President To Meet Pope Francis In Vatican
Pope Francis and Michael D Higgins met in Dublin in 2018, © PA Archive/PA Images
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By Cillian Sherlock, PA

President Michael D Higgins will meet Pope Francis during a private audience in the pontiff’s library at the Vatican on Thursday.

It is anticipated that President Higgins will discuss a number of issues of shared interest with Francis, including climate change, migration, poverty, food security, the rights of indigenous people and global peace.


Mr Higgins has previously praised the contribution that Francis has made to the debate on these issues.

It will be the fourth meeting between Mr Higgins and Francis, following previous meetings in the Vatican in 2017 and 2021 and at the presidential residence Áras an Uachtaráin in Dublin in 2018.

Michael D Higgins is heading to the Vatican
Michael D Higgins is heading to the Vatican (PA)


President Higgins also met Francis at the Papal Inauguration in 2013.

At their meeting, Mr Higgins will present Francis with a sculpture entitled The Expelled by renowned Irish sculptor John Behan.

The president chose to present this piece to Francis in recognition of the pontiff’s work in drawing public attention to the plight of refugees and migrants across the world.

Mr Behan is one of Ireland’s best-known living sculptors and has a recent focus on depictions of the experiences of refugees around the world.


Pope Francis
Pope Francis will be presented with a sculpture (Alessandra Tarantino/AP)

Following his private audience with Francis, Mr Higgins will hold a bilateral meeting with the Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Parolin.

President Higgins will then travel to Campo Santo in the Teutonic Pontifical College, where he will lay a wreath in honour of the late Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, whose work during the Nazi occupation of Rome during the Second World War saved the lives of thousands of people.


This year marks the 60th anniversary of the death of Monsignor O’Flaherty.

President Higgins will also view the exhibition Ireland and the Birth of Europe at the Irish Pontifical College in Rome. The exhibition tells the story of the role played by Irish scholars and missionaries, including Saint Columbanus and his followers, in the shaping of a shared European identity.

The events coincide with the president’s participation in the World Food Forum.

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