Pope Francis met Andry Nirina Rajoelina, the Catholic President of Madagascar, along with Mialy Razakandisa his wife, his sons Arena and Ilonstoa, and a daughter, Ilona, on August 17.
As Madagascar's current president since January 2019, he also served as the country's interim leader from 2009 to 2014.
During a 20-minute private conversation, Pope Francis invited Rajoelina's family to pray a Hail Mary together before a Marian image the bishops of Madagascar had given him.
A miniature ship was also displayed next to the pope and delegation during Francis' 2019 visit to the island country.
Madagascar was one of the countries Pope Francis visited during his trip to Mozambique and Mauritius from September 6–8, 2019.
Madagascar is an island nation about 250 miles off the coast of East Africa with 22 Catholic dioceses.
It is estimated that between 40% and 80% of Madagascar's population are Christians, both Protestants and Catholics. A total of 25 million people live in the country, and Islam and indigenous religions are also practiced.
Rajoelina spoke with Monsignor Miroslaw Stanislaw Wachowski, a Vatican diplomat and undersecretary for relations with states after he met with Pope Francis.
During the conversation, the Vatican briefly described the war in Ukraine and its global impact, African crises, and the Catholic Church's role in Malagasy society.
Additionally, the two discussed the possibility of drafting a bilateral agreement between the Holy See and Madagascar.
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