CORK’S Lord Mayor has described his face-to-face encounter with Pope Francis at the Vatican yesterday as ‘an amazing experience’.
Cllr Tony Fitzgerald said that the meeting meant a lot to him as a practising Catholic.
The Lord Mayor described Pope Francis as ‘a warm affectionate man’ after their meeting, which took place after an audience at St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.
The meeting was organised by the Bishop of Cork, Dr John Buckley.
Mr Fitzgerald said: “We had an amazing experience yesterday morning in St Peter’s Basilica where we were afforded a meeting with the Pope.”
The Lord Mayor used the chance to discuss homelessness and community activism with the Pope, as well as sending the regards of the people of Cork to Pope Francis.
The Lord Mayor was accompanied on his visit by his wife, Georgina and daughters, Michelle and Deborah.
Also in attendance was Ann Doherty, the chief executive of Cork City Council, and her family. Mr Fitzgerald and Ms Doherty took the chance to present the Pope with a number of gifts, including the Cork From the Air book of photographs by Dennis Horgan.
“He is a warm affectionate man. I gave him a presentation of three candle holders and we spoke briefly about praying for the homeless and the people of our city and him coming to Ireland.”
Mr Fitzgerald said it was an “amazing experience to have as Lord Mayor” and said he and Lady Mayoress Georgina wished the Pope all the best from the people of Cork.
Following his meeting with the Pope, Mr Fitzgerald had an official visit to the Irish college in Rome, where he met a number of Irish people studying for the priesthood and researching religious theology at the college.
The Lord Mayor, who is back in Cork today, said the trip was an experience he would cherish and remember for years to come.