His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, this morning received His Holiness Pope Francis, Head of the Catholic Church.
Upon his arrival at the Presidential Palace, Pope Francis, accompanied by cavalry on Arabian horses, was accorded an official reception.
A 21-gun salute was fired in honour of the Pontiff, following which the Papal Anthem and that of the United Arab Emirates were played.
During the ceremony, Their Highnesses welcomed the visit of Pope Francis to the country and expressed happiness at the historic visit of a man famed for peace and love across the world.
They expressed confidence that the visit would contribute to dialogue, brotherhood, coexistence, cooperation and respect among all human beings, and would enhance peace and security for people across the world.
His Holiness Pope Francis greeted UAE dignitaries, including Sheikhs and ministers, while His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan shook hands with the official delegation accompanying the Pope.
After his meeting with Sheikh Mohamed, Pope Francis signed the ‘Book of Honour’ and presented a framed medallion by the artist Daniela Longo.
The medallion depicts the encounter between St. Francis of Assisi and the Sultan Malek el-Kamel which took place in 1219, an episode narrated in the ninth chapter of the ‘Legenda Maior’ – one of the most important manuscripts of the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Roma detailing the official biography of St. Francis.
A Latin inscription of the Apostolic visit can be found around the border of the medallion, whose imagery highlights the purpose of the trip, human fraternity and dialogue.
Among those receiving the visitor were H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Ruler's Representative in Al Dhafra Region, Dr Amal Abdullah Al Qubaisi, President of the Federal National Council (FNC), H.H. Sheikh Tahnoun bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Ruler’s Representative in Al Ain Region, Sheikh Suroor bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, H.H. Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, H.H. Lt General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, H.H. Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan, National Security Advisor, H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, H.H. Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chief of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, H.H. Sheikh Omar bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation, H.H. Sheikh Khalid bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Zayed Higher Organisation for Humanitarian Care and Special Needs; H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Advisor to His Highness the UAE President; H.H. Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and Sheikh Diab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi's Department of Transport.
His Holiness Pope Francis was accompanied by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of His Holiness; Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches; Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of People; Archbishop Edgar Pena Parra, Substitute of the Secretariat of State; Archbishop Francisco M. Padilla, Apostolic Nuncio to the United Arab Emirates; Bishop Miguel A. Ayuso Guixot, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue; Bishop Paul Hinder, O.F.M. Cap., Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia; Msgr. Gianluca Pezzoli, Official of the Secretariat of State; Fr. Simon Peter Lukyamuzi, Secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature; Fr. Michael P. O’Sullivan, Local Coordinator; Fr. Antonino Spadaro, SJ, Director of 'La Civilta Cattolica'; and Dr. Paolo Ruffini, Prefect of the Dicastery for Communication.