The Holy See Press Office said Francis and Zelenskyy spoke about the humanitarian and political situation in Ukraine amid the conflict.
“The pope assured of his constant prayers, evidenced by his many public appeals and continuous invocations to the Lord for peace since February last year,” the press office said. “The pope particularly stressed the urgent need for ‘gestures of humanity’ toward the most fragile people, the innocent victims of the conflict.”
Zelenskyy’s gifts to Francis were a painting of the Virgin Mary and Child titled “Loss 2022-58,” about the death of children in the conflict, and a collage made of bulletproof plate, wood, and paint from a series called “Protect the Defender.” The collage also features an image of the Virgin Mary.
The Ukrainian president spent in total about one hour at the Vatican.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy (center) speaks with Archbishop Richard Gallagher (second from right), secretary for relations with states, in the presence of Ukraine's ambassador to the Holy See, Andrii Yurash (third from left), on May 13, 2023. Vatican Media
He also spoke with the Vatican’s foreign minister, Archbishop Richard Gallagher. They conversed in English in the presence of Ukraine’s ambassador to the Holy See, Andrii Yurash.
On Saturday morning, Zelenskyy met with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and later with Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.
Meloni and Zelenskyy gave a nearly 30-minute joint press conference in the afternoon before the Ukrainian president proceeded to the Vatican for his meeting with Pope Francis.
“We are betting on Ukraine’s victory,” Meloni said at the press conference. “We will continue to provide support, including military support, so that Ukraine can arrive at the negotiations with a solid position.”
Zelenskyy thanked Meloni for welcoming him to Italy and for giving shelter to Ukrainian citizens during the war.