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PIA Press Release
2007/06/05

PGMA gifts the Holy Father with a Santo Niņo Dormido

ROME (via PLDT) (5 June) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo gifted the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, with an image of the Santo Niņo Dormido (sleeping Sto. Nino) when she paid her respects to his Holiness Monday at the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican City.

The image of the sleeping Sto. Niņo was made of elephant ivory and was handcrafted between the 1970s and 1980s. Its "tapis" was of solid gold and has "tres potencies" and a waistband made of solid silver.

The Sto. Niņo reflects the Filipino people's great emphasis in nurturing children and their appreciation of the value of life. It had been revered by the Filipinos as early as when the Spanish "conquistadores" invaded the Philippines.

The sleeping Sto. Niņo image was placed in a dainty white box when the President presented it to the Pope after their one-on-one meeting at the Holy Father's library.

In turn, the Holy Father gifted the President with a big Medal of the Pontificate.

The President and her party arrived at the Apostolic Palace at 11 a,m. (5 p.m. Manila time) and were warmly welcomed by the Holy Father at the Sala Clementina, where a large painting of St. Peter by Raphael hangs.

"Welcome," Pope Benedict said, to which the President bowed and reached for the right hand of the Holy Father to kiss his ring.

The President was ushered into the Pope's library through halls displaying the rich artwork of famous Italian artists. The leader of the third largest Catholic country in the world and the head of the Catholic Church met for 10 minutes at the Holy Father's library.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo said the President briefed the Pope on the gains in the Philippine economy and the government's efforts to put an end to extrajudicial killings as well as on the May 14 midterm elections.

Secretary Romulo said the Pope, in turn, once again gave his blessings to the President and to the Filipino people.

The meeting between the President and his Holiness took place a year after President Arroyo's last visit to the Vatican City in June 2006.

During the President's audience with his Holiness last year, Pope Benedict gave his blessings to the President and the Filipino people, which was followed by a banner year for the country's economy.

After her audience with the Holy Father, the President met with the Secretary of the Vatican State, his Eminence Tarciso Cardinal Bertone.

The President and her party then flew to Lisbon, Portugal for a pilgrimage to the miraculous Shrine of Fatima. (OPS/PIA) [top]

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