The president’s gifts to the Pope are of both practical and symbolic value

The president’s gifts to the Pope are of both practical and symbolic value

President Zuzana Čaputová gave Pope Francis gifts of both practical and symbolic value when they met at the Presidential Palace.

The President’s symbolic gift to the Holy Father is a loaf of bread. Being made from many individual grains, bread was used even in early Christian prayers as a symbol of how people can come together. Bread is also a symbol of life, human work and good deeds.

The loaf that the President gave to Pope Francis was baked at the Trnava bakery Chlieb náš [Our Bread]. It was presented in a wicker basket woven by Pavol Vrtich, a master of folk crafts from Nové mesto nad Váhom, using stripped rods, with a bobbin-lace cover from the Centre for Folk Art Production in Bratislava. Its rosette pattern comes from the village of Slovenský Grob. This cover was designed by artist Božena Janeková in 1987.

Another of the President’s gifts was the book Reštaurovanie [Restoration] by the distinguished painter Mária Bidelnicová. An important part of her restoration work is the renovation of sacral monuments to keep us in contact with the artistic masterpieces and faith of ancient masters. The book describes a variety of restoration methods and techniques for works from the Gothic period to the present.

Since the President and Pope Francis share a concern for the environment and both of them have repeatedly warned of the risks arising from climate change and the urgency of addressing the climate crisis, the gifts also include a charging station from the Slovak start-up AgeVolt from Bratislava, which the Vatican can use to charge electric vehicles. The product is partly made from recycled materials. Its flexibility and artificial intelligence control system also help to reduce CO2 emissions.

Another of the common interests of the President and Pope Francis is finding solutions to social problems and helping the socially disadvantaged. It was for this purpose that the Holy Father established the Vatican COVID-19 Commission and a fund administered by the Pontifical Mission Societies to finance aid for poor countries affected by the pandemic in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania. He likewise helps the homeless and other marginalised groups.
 
The President decided to support these activities by donating medical equipment.  
These include a lung ventilator from IPM Chirana and Chirana Medical, which comprises 1,200 components and is controlled by artificial intelligence. It is designed to provide a breathing regime tailored to the patient’s lung condition. Together the with the machine, the companies will provide training on how to operate it for staff selected by the Holy See.
The gifts also include 14 germicidal lamps from Microwell in Šaľa, Nexa in Piešťany and Unizdrav in Prešov, 98,000 syringes from Chirana T Injecta specially designed for use in administering COVID-19 vaccines, 108,000 protective masks from Vidra in Žilina and 40 cartons of disinfectant from Banchem in Dunajská Streda.

As is traditional, the President also gave the Pope honey from the beehives in the Presidential Garden. 

Pope Francis gave the President a pontifical medal commemorating his apostolic journey to Slovakia. The face shows his papal coat of arms. The reverse features, against a bowl-shaped background with textural decoration, an image of Our Lady of Sorrows, Slovakia’s patroness, in front of a double cross. The surrounding text is the date and title of the Pope’s apostolic journey to Slovakia.