Did you ever think you’d see a picture like this?

Two men in white.

The story:

In a historic meeting, Pope Francis has paid a visit to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, with the new Pope telling his predecessor “we are brothers”.

The Pope set off from the Vatican by helicopter to Castel Gandolfo, a 15 minute flight away, where Benedict was waiting to greet him, according to a statement from the Vatican. Both men, dressed in white, embraced warmly.

The meeting lasted just over two hours, and included a 15 minute prayer session, followed by a private meeting in the Pope emeritus’ library, and a lunch with advisors.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told reporters: “When Pope Francis arrived, the Pope Emeritus approached him and there was a beautiful hug between the two.

“Then, after brief greetings also to the other people – the bishop of Albano and the Director of the Pontifical Villas, Petrillo – they got in the car: Pope Francis sat on the right, then place in the tradition of the Pope, and the Pope Benedict XVI Emeritus sat on the left.”

Upon arrival, the two went into the chapel to pray. In the chapel, the Pope emeritus offered the place of honour to Pope Francis, but he said: “We are brothers,” and he insisted they knelt together at the same table, a Vatican spokesman said.

Francis also brought a gift to Benedict, an icon of the Madonna, and told him that it’s known as the “Madonna of Humility.”

“I thought of you,” Francis told Benedict. “You gave us so many signs of humility and gentleness in your pontificate.” Benedict replied: “Grazie, grazie.”

Lombardi added: “It should be noted, with regard to the clothing, which actually – as we mentioned earlier – the Pope emeritus wears a simple cassock white, without the sash and without mantelletta [a sleeveless, knee-length, vest-like garment]: are the two details which distinguish it, instead, from clothing of Pope Francis which also has a mantelletta and sash.”

Rome Reports has video of the encounter below.  What is most striking to me is how frail Benedict appears.  While there’s only about a decade in age difference between the two men, the Pope Emeritus seems much older.

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