The Pope received the President of the Republic of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solis Rivera, accompanied by his suite, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace. The private meeting in the Library Hall started later than expected and lasted twenty minutes. “Good morning, thanks for seeing me,” said the head of state shaking hands with the Pope in the Throne Room. Then, in the library, given the delay, the two of them did talk at the desk, as it is customary during the meetings, but on two chairs at the back of the room.
Besides several ministers and dignitaries, the large delegation comprised also the President’s long-term partner, Mercedes Penas Domingo, a Spanish university professor and political scientist, and their 9-year-old daughter, Ines. Also Rebecca, the eldest daughter from his previous marriage, which ended in divorce in 2006, was present. At the end of the private meeting, the delegation was introduced to the Pope, who showed special affection towards the child. He took her by the hand and they walked together towards the presents.
The Costa Rican President gave Francis two woodcuts made by indigenous craftsmen from the South of the country, explaining that he had thought about the “Pope committed to the defense of nature”, and an ornament in the shape of an armadillo, also made by a craftsman, using native ‘jiracas‘, a tropical fruit similar to coconuts. “It also tastes very good” Solis said. Little Ines, meanwhile, was always between the Pope and the president. In his turn, Bergoglio gave the head of state a bronze medallion with the olive tree of peace that joins two split rocks: “I make you this gift because all those responsible for governing must unite.”
He also gave Solis a copy of Evangelii Gaudium, of the encyclical Praised Be, and “this new document on the family,” he said, that is, Amoris Laetitia. “My daughter has made a painting,” the Costa Rican President told the Pope. “But I do not have it!” the child protested, as everyone was smiling. When the time has come to say goodbye, Solis told Bergoglio, inviting him to visit their country: “I hope you come to visit us.” “I’ll think about it, if I can…”, was the Pope’s answer. “It would be a great joy for all of us,” Solis added. Then, the president and his suite talked with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin.