The President of the Republic of Cameroon, H.E. Paul Biya, and First Lady Chantal Biya were received by His Holiness Pope Francis at the Vatican on March 23, 2017.
The couple was on an official visit to the Vatican, following a state visit to Italy from March 20 to 22.
President and Mrs. Biya were greeted at 9:45 a.m. by the Prefect of the Papal Household in the San Damaso courtyard of the Apostolic Palace, in Rome.
President Biya had a 30-minute conversation with the Sovereign Pontiff in the private library of the Holy Father’s residence. The Pope greeted him with a few words of French. In return, President Biya said he was happy and honoured to be received once more by his Holiness.
Indeed, President and Mrs. Biya had already met Pope Francis during an official visit to Vatican City State on October 18, 2013, mere months after the start of his pontificate.
The meeting took place behind closed doors, and no reports filtered out concerning what the two men spoke of. Nevertheless, this latest meeting reflects the cordial ties Cameroon has with the Holy See, a relationship informed by the diplomatic and spiritual proximity that Mr. Biya has cultivated with Pope Francis’ predecessors John Paul II and Benedict XVI as well.
Following their meeting, his Holiness and President Biya posed for an official portrait. The Pope then posed with President and Mrs Biya together, and finally, with the members of the delegation accompanying the presidential couple, previously introduced to Pope Francis by Mr. Biya.
President Biya offered Pope Francis a work of Negro-African art, a wooden statuette representing an African sage in a pensive pose. In exchange, His Holiness gave Cameroon’s Head of State a holy gift, and Mrs. Biya and the members of the delegation presents.
President Biya wrapped up his Vatican visit with a meeting with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin in the Clementine Hall.