MADAGASCAR: President’s Meeting with Pope Rekindles Memories of 2019 Apostolic Visit

By Arnold Neliba

VATICAN, AUGUST 18, 2023 (CISA)-Pope Francis on August 17 received in audience President Andry Nirina Rajoelina, of the Republic of Madagascar at the Vatican.

“It is with hearts filled with joy that today with my family, we were blessed and honored to meet His Holiness Pope Francis at Vatican in a spirit of deep affection and humility. This marks our third meeting since his induction in 2013,” reads a tweet by President Rajoelina loosely translated from Malagasy.

The visit rekindled memories of the Pope’s visit to Madagascar in September 2019, with the pope praying the Hail Mary in front of an image of Our Lady gifted to Pope Francis by the bishops of Madagascar.

“I look back with emotion on his spiritual visit to Madagascar in September 2019, where he marked the lives of several million Christians. I feel the strong attachment of the Holy Father for Madagascar and for all the people of Malagasy,” the president commented.

Commenting on the short prayer session with the pope, he said “I was deeply touched by the shared prayer, which will remain engraved in me, like his blessing. His message was an echo of pure love that soothed my children, my wife and myself. With all my gratitude, thank you Holy Father, for having an important place for Madagascar.”

“Every day, looking at this fabulous boat, I think of you, of Madagascar, and of the memorable moments spent with the people of Malagasy – and I pray for you,” President Rajoelina remembered words of Pope Francis when he showed them on his desk a miniature replica of the ship which the Pope received during his apostolic journey to Madagascar from September 6-9, 2019.

According to a statement from the Holy See Press office, the president later met Monsignor Miroslaw Wachowski, Under-Secretary for Relations with States whose discussions revolved around the ongoing war in Ukraine and its global effect.

“During the cordial talks held in the Secretariat of State, appreciation was expressed for the positive bilateral relations, as well as the contribution of the Catholic Church in many sectors of Malagasy society,” reads the statement.

Their engagements also touched on the situations of crises affecting the African continent.

The parties also drafted a bilateral Agreement as a commitment to respectful collaboration between the two entities.