The gift was a nod to to the pope's commitment to the care of Creation.
Pope Francis received Alexander Van der Bellen, President of the Republic of Austria, at the Vatican on June 7, the Holy See Press Office announced. The two discussed environmental and diplomatic issues, but the meeting was especially noteworthy because of the original gift the Austrian politician gave to the pope.
A gift of 20 goats
Alexander Van der Bellen – an independent politician backed by the environmental Green Party- presented the head of the Catholic Church with twenty “portraits” of goats which were offered in his name to families in Burundi. These original photographs are part of an Austrian Caritas project called “Giving Meaning.”
The head of state, who came accompanied by the Minister of European Affairs, Karoline Edtstadler and the Minister of the Environment, Leonore Gewessler, offered another original gift to the pontiff: a work of art by the contemporary painter Karin Mayer, framed by a young disabled boy. The works of this Austrian visual artist are currently on display in Melk Abbey as part of an exhibition – the catalog of which was donated to the Pope – once again organized by Caritas Austria.
Art inspired by the biblical story of Noah
Pope Francis, who received Alexander Van der Bellen for twenty-five minutes, for his part presented him with a mosaic made by the craftsmen of the Vatican mosaic workshop. The artwork represented a particularly ecological theme, that of the biblical story of Noah. It is titled “With Noah, God opens a way of salvation for Creation and for every man.” The pontiff accompanied this gift with important texts from his pontificate, in particular the Message for Peace 2021 and the Document for Human Fraternity.
The Austrian President also met Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and Secretary for Relations with States Bishop Paul Richard Gallagher. The good relations between the two States were underlined, as well as the role played by the Catholic Church in the promotion of solidarity in favor of peace and universal brotherhood, and the care of Creation.