His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew met with His Holiness Pope Francis at the Apostolic Palace of the Vatican on 17 September 2019, during his visit to Italy to deliver the keynote address on 16 September at the 24th International Congress of the Society for the Law of the Eastern Churches, marking the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Society of which he was a founding member, and to officially visit the Italo-Albanase Eparchy of Lungro in Calabria for its 100th anniversary between 18-20 September.
The meeting between Pope and Ecumenical Patriarch, held in “a fraternal atmosphere”, was marked by an exchange of gifts and followed by a lunch together with the respective delegations at Casa Santa Marta. Before the meeting, at the invitation of Bishop Marcello Semeraro, secretary of the Council of Cardinals, the Ecumenical Patriarch made a brief greeting to the cardinal members of the Council and emphasized to them the value of synodality in the Orthodox Church and assured them of his prayer.
Before the meeting, the Pope had sent a letter to the Patriarch in which he explains the significance of the recent gift of some fragments of the relics of Saint Peter to the Church of Constantinople, “now placed next to those of the apostle Andrew”. A gesture that wants to be “a confirmation of the journey that our Churches have made to get closer to each other”. The reliquary, donated by Pope Francis to the Patriarch of Constantinople, contains 9 fragments of the bones of the apostle Peter.