A reigning pope and a former pope faced each other for the first time in at least 600 years on Saturday when Pope Francis travelled south of Rome for lunch with his predecessor, pope emeritus Benedict XVI.
Francis, who was elected on March 13, flew by helicopter to the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, where Benedict has been living since he abdicated on February 28.
Footage released by the Vatican showed the two men, both dressed in nearly identical white clerical garb, including white skull caps, embracing shortly after the helicopter landed at the large estate.
The only difference in garb is that Francis also wears a short white cape over his cassock and a white sash around his waist - both symbols of his authority. On Saturday Benedict, who often suffered from chills, even indoors, wore a thick white vest over his cassock.
They then rode in the same car to the residence where they prayed together, spoke alone for about 45 minutes and then had lunch accompanied by their two secretaries. Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the atmosphere for the entire visit, which lasted just under three hours, was "family-like".
When they went to pray in the chapel, Benedict offered the place of honour, a kneeler before the altar, to Francis, who declined, saying, "We are brothers, we pray together," Lombardi said. Footage showed the two men praying at the same pew.
Asked about the health of Benedict, who became the first pope in 600 years to resign instead of ruling for life, citing diminishing strength, Lombardi said: "It is normal, he is an old man."
Benedict has been living temporarily in the summer residence in the Alban Hills and will move back to the Vatican after the restoration of a convent where he is expected to live for the rest of his life.
Shortly before his resignation, Benedict, now 85, said he would be "withdrawing into prayer" and would live out his remaining days "hidden from the world".
In February, on the last day of his nearly eight years as leader of the Catholic Church, Benedict pledged his unconditional obedience to whoever would succeed him. Lombardi said the meeting "gave Benedict the opportunity, through his gestures" to renew his pledge personally.
Tiny Micro Robots Build Things in ‘Microfactory’ 2014 04 17 The teenie-weeniest robot uprising ever might be sooner rather than later due to the work of research institute SRI.
Don’t let these microbots’ size fool you, there is power in numbers and thousands of the robots can work together to perform tasks at dizzying speed.
SRI International has developed a new generation of ant-like robots that can work as ...
"A world of pure imagination": How Occupy turned to "anarchy" 2014 04 17
In the closing ceremonies of London’s 2012 Summer Olympics, comedian Russell Brand, perched atop the Beatles’ "Magical Mystery Tour" bus, opened his performance by singing the first lines of "Pure Imagination" from the movie Willy Wonka:
Come with me
And you’ll be
In a world of
Artists ’have structurally different brains’ 2014 04 17
Artists have structurally different brains compared with non-artists, a study has found.
Participants’ brain scans revealed that artists had increased neural matter in areas relating to fine motor movements and visual imagery.
The research, published in NeuroImage, suggests that an artist’s talent could be innate.
But training and environmental upbringing also play crucial roles in their ability, the authors report.
As in many areas ...
NSA-proof email service goes online 2014 04 17 A new email service that protects its users from the prying eyes of the NSA and other spy agencies has gone online. The service’s creators say it will make encrypted messaging accessible to all and curtail internet snooping.
Germany-based Lavaboom was inspired by Lavabit, the encrypted email service that was believed to have been used by whistleblower Edward Snowden before it ...