President Donald Trump met Pope Francis for the first time at the Vatican Wednesday morning, where the two men exchanged gifts and pleasantries inside the Apostolic Palace after meeting privately for nearly half an hour.
“Thank you so much,” Trump told the Pope. “It’s a very great honor.”
After the meeting, Trump added, “Thank you. Thank you. I won’t forget what you said.”
The pope gifted Trump with a medal designed by a Roman artist in the shape of an olive, which he said represented peace and had signed personally for him.
“We can use peace,” Trump said. “That’s so beautiful.”
Meanwhile, Trump gave the pope a first-edition set of writings from Martin Luther King Jr. and a bronze sculpture created by an American artist who lives in Florida.
The president was joined by Melania Trump and Ivanka Trump, who were both wearing black dresses with black veils, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, Keith Schiller and social media director Dan Scavino during the trip.
Trump and the pope have a contentious history. Throughout the campaign, the two clashed after the pope criticized Trump’s intention to build a wall on the southern border and restrict immigration.
“A person who only thinks about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” the pope said at the time.
Trump later shot back: “For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful.”
However, Trump said the two leaders had “a fantastic meeting” Wednesday and that “it was an honor” to be with him.
“He is something.”
After the meeting, Donald and Melania Trump embarked on a private tour of the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica before heading off to meetings with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Pablo Gentiloni.