World News

Melania Trump is a Catholic, says White House

Mrs Trump left flowers at the feet of a statue of the Virgin Mary during her visit to Rome( CNS/Paul Haring)

United States First Lady Melania Trump is a practising Catholic, her spokeswoman has confirmed.

Mrs Trump’s visit to the Vatican sparked speculation last week. She placed flowers at the feet of a statue of the Virgin Mary and spent time praying at the Bambino Gesù hospital. Earlier she and her husband Donald Trump had met Pope Francis for the first time. She gave the Pope rosary beads for him to bless.

It is unclear when Melania Trump, who was raised in a communist-supporting family in Slovenia, became a Catholic. She married Donald Trump, a lifelong Presbyterian, in 2005 at an Episcopal church in Palm Beach, Florida.

Despite her husband being inaugurated US president in January, she is not due to move into the White House until later in the summer. When she does, she will be the first Catholic to live there since President John F Kennedy and his wife Jackie in the early 1960s.

Pope Francis and President Trump spent 30 minutes speaking privately in the library of the Apostolic Palace. As the president left, he told the Pope: “I won’t forget what you said.”

Pope Francis gave Trump a split medallion held together by an olive tree, which his interpreter told Trump was “a symbol of peace”.

Speaking in Spanish, the Pope told Trump: “I am giving you this because I hope you may be this olive tree to make peace.” The president replied: “We can use peace.”

Pope Francis also gave the president a copy of his message for World Peace Day 2017 along with his three papal documents: The Joy of the Gospel, Amoris Laetitia and Laudato Si’.

Following the meeting, President Trump tweeted that he was “more determined than ever to pursue peace in our world”.


Writings of Canadian saint translated for the first time

Three centuries after his death, the writings of Canada’s first bishop have become available in English.

Bishop François de Laval, appointed Bishop of Quebec in 1674, was declared a saint by Pope Francis in 2014.

Jean Duval, director of the Francois de Laval Animation Center, said there was a greater demand for his writings from English speakers than French speakers. “More Anglophones come to the cathedral, including many Americans,” he said.

The book, The Spiritual Writings of François de Laval, translated by Benjamin Waterhouse, offers 39 texts that illustrate the spiritual experience of the saint. It is based on Mgr Hermann Giguere’s 2011 book about Bishop François.

Mgr Giguere said the saint “was very strong on the mobility of priests and saw them as missionaries. He did not want to make fixed parishes … He was very critical of what was happening in France in the 17th century: the benefits, the bishoprics that were exchanged and bought.”