MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Benigno Aquino III received Pope Francis in Malacañang on Friday, January 16. Aquino likewise welcomed the Holy Father upon his arrival in the country Thursday night.
Aquino became the 7th Philippine president in history to personally meet the Pope in any formal ceremony or in any official, state, or papal visit.
The first-ever Philippine president to meet the pope was Elpidio Quirino, who was received by Pope Pius XII on October 9, 1951, on the sidelines of his official visit to Italy. (See photo here.)
The first state visit of a Philippine president to the Vatican was by Diosdado Macapagal, who met Pope John XXIII on July 9, 1962.
Meanwhile, Pope Paul VI was the first pope to visit the country. On November 27, 1970, the first day of his 3-day papal visit, Pope Paul VI talked to then president Ferdinand Marcos.
Marcos would welcome another pope in Malacañang Palace nearly 11 years later, when Pope John Paul II made a 6-day papal visit to the Philippines in February 1981.
Other past presidents who’ve met the Vatican City head are:
- Corazon Aquino, once: with Pope John Paul II in an official visit to the Vatican in June 1988
- Fidel V. Ramos, twice: with Pope John Paul II in an official visit to the Vatican in September 1994 and during the 5-day papal visit to the country in January 1995
- Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, thrice: with Pope John Paul II in a working visit to the Vatican on September 2003, and with Pope Benedict XVI in an official visit to the Vatican in June 2006 and a private visit in June 2007.
SOURCE: gov.ph, various news websites
Learn about the other spots in Pope Francis’ itinerary:
- FAST FACTS: Apostolic Nunciature in PH
- FAST FACTS: Manila Cathedral
- FAST FACTS: Mall of Asia Arena
- FAST FACTS: Tacloban Airport
- FAST FACTS: Archdiocese of Palo (Leyte) and the archbishop’s residence
- FAST FACTS: Pope Francis Center
- FAST FACTS: Palo Cathedral, Leyte
- FAST FACTS: University of Santo Tomas
- FAST FACTS: Rizal Park