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Pope Francis meets with leaders of countries bordering Russia and Ukraine

As fighting rages on in Ukraine, the leaders of nearby countries are turning to the Vatican to keep the war with Russia from spilling over into their territory.

This week, representatives from Latvia and Slovakia visited the Vatican. These meetings had been planned for months, but now they coincide at a critical moment in the region.

The first was with Slovak Prime Minister, Eduard Heger. He visited the Pope to thank him for his trip to Slovakia in September 2021, and presented him with a bell with the image of Saints Cyril and Methodius.

The Pope gave him a bas-relief of the Our Lady of the Stairs, a popular icon in Rome in which the Virgin Mary holds the child Jesus in her arms

The Pope told him that, by becoming incarnate in a child, God became fragile and in need of his mother.

“This one I have in my office because it touches me very much.”

As usual, the Pope gave him the most important writings of his pontificate, and his message of peace for 2022.

“I signed it for you today.”

Latvia’s Foreign Minister, Edgars Rinkevics, then met with Pope Francis. His country shares over 100 miles of a border with Russia.

Rinkevics gave him the speech he read during the Pope’s visit to Riga, Latvia in 2018, along with a letter from Lativia’s President.

For his part, Pope Francis gave him a medallion in which the angel of peace defeats the angel of war.

“It says that there is a world of solidarity and peace founded on justice.”

A gift that the Latvian liked.

“This is most appropriate in the current circumstances”.

Pope Francis then said goodbye to the foreign minister, and asked him to pray for him.

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