Pope Francis on Sunday met with Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, the president of his native country. She assured the Roman Pontiff of the affection and closeness of his fellow Argentines and asked for his blessing on their behalf. The Pope met in private with Argentina’s president for 90 minutes in the Pope’s study at Vatican City’s Paul VI Hall, during which time they exchanged gifts. Pope Francis, the former Buenos Aires archbishop, gave the president an 11th century Russian icon of Our Lady of Tenderness, the Holy See press office said. For her part, Fernandez gave the Roman Pontiff several gifts, including a large framed painting of the recently beatified Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, by Argentine artist Eugenio Cuttica. The president also gave Pope Francis a book by Alberto Methol Ferre, who has influenced the Pope’s thought. There were other gifts from Fernandez, including a copy of “Martin Fierro,” Argentina’s national poem, which the Pope has cited in his addresses. The presents included two artistic reliefs designed for the vision impaired: one of Our Lady of Lujan, and the other of Pope Francis. Other gifts were a basket of Argentine food and a volume about Argentina’s heritage, edited for the country’s 2010 bicentennial. After their private meeting, the two leaders moved to the nearby hall where Pope Francis greeted members of the delegation accompanying Fernandez. The president and her delegation will participate in the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations conference currently underway in Rome. Over the course of his pontificate, Pope Francis has met with the president of Argentina five times, including his March 19 inauguration.
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