MANILA, Philippines – What did Pope Francis write in the Malacañang guestbook?
The pontiff wrote just one sentence in English, but it is enough to bless the entire nation.
“On the President and people of this beloved land of the Philippines, I ask Almighty God abundant blessings of wisdom, discernment, prosperity and peace,” the Argentinian pontiff wrote on Friday, January 16, during his visit to Malacañang Palace.
The signing of the guestbook is a custom during Palace visits of heads of state and other important guests.
The Pope signed the guestbook at the Palace Reception Hall, at the landing of the staircase. As is custom, Aquino stood on the left of his state guest as he signed the guestbook.
The two leaders then proceeded to their meeting at the President’s Hall, which was followed by the traditional gift exchange.
Aquino presented the Pope with a commissioned sculpture of Mary, Undoer of Knots, whose representation in a painting inspired the Pope’s devotion while he was studying in Germany.
The statue was carved from wood taken from a former landmark in Malacañang – a century-old acacia tree which used to stand in front of Malacañang’s Kalayaan Hall until it was felled by Typhoon Glenda in July 2014.
The statue was carved by Laguna native Fred Baldemor, known for his religious sculptures of wood, bronze and marble.
In a statement, the Palace said it chose the sculpture because it reflected “the story of the Filipino people.”
“We see the beauty of faith and the strength of devotion, amidst the suffering and challenges of life,” Malacañang said.
The President also presented the Pope with two commemorative coins bearing the pontiff’s image – P50- and P500-limited issue coins – from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank of the Philippines).
In return, the Pope gave Aquino an atlas of the Vatican. – Rappler.com