Pope Francis "Re-Gifts" Icon to Pope Emeritus Benedict
That beautiful icon of Our Lady of Humility that Pope Francis gave to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI during their historic meeting at Castel Gandolfo? Well, turns out that it just may be the most high-profile instance of "re-gifting" since Jerry's dentist gave him a label maker.
Robert Moynihan has the story:
... In the same report, she noted: “Francis also brought a gift for Benedict, an icon of the Madonna. ‘They told me it’s the Madonna of Humility,’ Francis told Benedict. ‘Let me say one thing: When they told me that, I immediately thought of you, at the many marvelous examples of humility and gentleness that you gave us during your pontificate.’ Benedict replied: ‘Grazie, grazie.’”
But who were the “they” who told Francis that the icon was the Madonna of Humility?
“They” were… the people who gave the icon to him. But who were those people?
Well… they were representatives of the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, who sent the icon to Pope Francis as a gift, and who handed it to Francis three days ago, on March 20.
How do I know this?
Because a few minutes ago I received an unexpected email from Metropolitan Hilarion, 46, an old friend who is also the “Foreign Minister” (the term isn’t quite accurate, but it suggests the importance of his work and position) of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Moscow Patriarchate, so, the right-hand of Patriarch Kirill. He wrote:
“Pope Francis presented to Pope emeritus Benedict the icon which had been presented to Pope Francis by Metropolitan Hilarion on behalf of Patriarch Kirill [the head of the Russian Orthodox Church] after the private audience [with the new Pope] on 20 March. Отправлено с iPhone [Sent from iPhone]“ So the icon was the Russian icon Hilarion gave to Francis three days ago!
I wrote back: “Amazing. Are you pleased, or upset?”
I added: “It is reported here: ‘They spent 45 minutes talking alone. Pope Francis gave Pope Benedict an icon of Our Lady of Humility, saying that when he received it, he immediately thought of giving it to Pope Benedict.’”
Hilarion wrote back: “Very pleased and touched.”