Early on Sunday afternoon, Pope Francis visited the Italian Senate to pay respects to Giorgio Napolitano, Italian President from 2006 to 2015, who passed away at the age of 98 on September 22, 2023. In a note sent to Napolitano’s wife, Pope Francis praised the politician’s “humanity” and “farsightedness.”
“The passing away of your husband, Senator Giorgio Napolitano, has aroused in me feelings of emotion and at the same time of gratitude for this statesman who, in the performance of his high institutional offices, manifested great gifts of intellect and sincere passion for Italian political life, as well as lively interest in the fate of nations,” the Pope wrote.
A day after returning from an intense 27-hour trip to Marseille, the 86-year-old Pope visited Giorgio Napolitano’s wake at around 1:15 pm. He remained for a long time in front of the coffin set up in the Senate. He then greeted the former president’s wife and sons, reports Italian television station Tv2000.
According to the Holy See Press Office, the Pope wished to “express, by his presence and his prayer, his personal affection for [Giorgio Napolitano] and his family, and to honor the great service he rendered to Italy.”
Giorgio Napolitano was in office when the Argentine Pontiff was elected in 2013. They met on several occasions, including June 8, 2013, and November 21, 2014.
Francis praised his “example” and “spirit of sacrifice” when the then 89-year-old head of state agreed to be elected for a second term, in the face of serious institutional crisis. The former president also enjoyed a friendly relationship with Benedict XVI.