Iranian leader gives pope rug, wants Francis to pray for him
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Iran’s president and Pope Francis have exchanged gifts and wishes for hope and prayers after they met privately at the Vatican.
President Hassan Rouhani brought the pope a red-toned carpet, about 80 centimeters (32 inches) by 1.2 meters (4 feet) and explained that the rug was hand-made in the holy city of Qom. Francis seemed curious as Hassan leafed through a book illustrating Iranian artworks, another gift.
Francis shook hands warmly with Rouhani, who is trying to shape a role as regional conflict solver for Iran after the recent nuclear accord led the West to lift sanctions.
The pope’s gift had a spiritual spin. Francis bestowed a medal depicting St. Martin giving his cloak to a shivering man, saying the gesture represents a sign of brotherhood.
This story has been corrected to show the accurate spelling of the city is Qom, not Qhom.