On Sunday, 24 September, Pope Francis went to pay his respects to the former President of Italy, Mr Giorgio Napolitano, who was lying in state in the Nassirya Room of the Senate of the Republic. Mr Napolitano died on Friday, 22 September at age 98.
The Holy Father’s visit demonstrated his personal affection for the former President and his family, while also honouring President Napolitano’s outstanding service to Italy. In a telegram addressed to Napolitano’s wife, Mrs Clio Bittoni Napolitano, Pope Francis expressed his condolences and remembered the Italian statesman with fondness and gratitude: “In the exercise of his high institutional duties, [he] manifested great gifts of intellect and sincere passion for Italian political life as well as a keen interest in the fate of nations”.
“I treasure the memories of the personal meetings I had with him, during which I appreciated his humanity and far-sightedness in making upright important choices, especially at delicate moments in the life of the country, with the constant intent to promote unity and concord in a spirit animated by the pursuit of the common good”, the Holy Father wrote.
He concluded his message by expressing his closeness to Mrs Napolitano, their children and family members, and assuring them of his prayers.
Born in Naples on 29 June 1925, Napolitano served as the 11th President of the Italian Republic from 2006 to 2015.