Pope Francis and U.S. President Donald Trump spent 30 minutes speaking privately in the library of the Apostolic Palace May 23, and when the president left, he told the pope, "I won't forget what you said."
The atmosphere at the beginning was formal and a bit stiff. However, meeting First Lady Melania Trump later, Pope Francis asked her, "What do you give him to eat, pizza?" She replied, "Pizza?" and there were smiles all around.
Pope Francis gave Trump a split medallion held together by an olive tree, which his interpreter told Trump is "a symbol of peace."
Speaking in Spanish, the pope told Trump, "I am giving you this because I hope you may be this olive tree to make peace."
The president responded, "We can use peace."
Pope Francis also gave the president a copy of his message for World Peace Day 2017 and told him, "I signed it personally for you." In addition, he gave Trump copies of his documents on "The Joy of the Gospel," on the family and "Laudato Si'" on the environment.
Trump presented Pope Francis will a large gift box with "books from Martin Luther King. I think you will enjoy them. I hope you do."
After meeting the Pope, Trump went downstairs to meet Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican foreign minister. He was accompanied by Rex Tillerson, U.S. secretary of state, and H.R. McMaster, his national security adviser.
Because of the pope's weekly general audience, Pope Francis and Trump met at 8:30 a.m., an unusually early hour for a formal papal meeting. The early hour meant Pope Francis still could greet the thousands of pilgrims and visitors waiting for him in St. Peter's Square.
Many of those pilgrims, though, had a more difficult than normal time getting into the square. Security measures were tight with hundreds of state police and military police patrolling the area and conducting more attentive searches of pilgrims' bags.
Reaching the St. Damasus Courtyard of the Apostolic Palace, where the U.S. flag flew for the morning, Trump was welcomed by Archbishop Georg Ganswein, prefect of the papal household, and a formation of 15 Swiss Guards.
Accompanied by the archbishop up an elevator and down a frescoed hallway, the president passed more Swiss Guards in the Clementine Hall.
Although President Trump and Pope Francis are known to have serious differences on issues such as immigration, economic policy and climate change, the pope told reporters 11 days before the meeting that he would look first for common ground with the U.S. leader.
"There are always doors that are not closed," the pope told reporters May 13. "We have to find doors that are at least a little open in order to go in and speak about things we have in common and go forward."
After leaving the Vatican, President Trump was driven across Rome for meetings with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.
Meanwhile, the First Lady went to the Vatican-owned Bambino Gesu children's hospital -- right next door to the Pontifical North American College, which is where U.S. seminarians in Rome live. President Trump's daughter, Ivanka, went to the Community of Sant'Egidio, a Catholic lay movement, for a meeting on combatting human trafficking.
The United States and the Vatican have long partnered on anti-trafficking initiatives, a common effort White House officials had said Trump hoped to discuss with the pope. The White House also pointed to a shared commitment to promote religious freedom around the world and to end religious persecution.