BANGKOK – His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua and Her Majesty Queen Suthida Bajarasudhabimalalakshana had an audience with Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State, who was on an official visit to Thailand November 21-23, 2019.
At 5:05 p.m. on Thursday Nov 21, Their Majesties the King and Queen welcomed Pope Francis at Amphorn Sathan Residential Hall in the Dusit Palace, Bangkok.
Their Majesties the King and Queen and Pope Francis then exchanged gifts, with His Majesty the King presenting a royal stationery set, a medal commemorating His Majesty’s coronation and a royal inscription. Her Majesty the Queen presented a set of scented candles. The Pope presented a mosaic of St. Peter’s Basilica, a medal to commemorate the seventh anniversary of his election as pontiff and a commemorative book to His Majesty the King.
The Pope presented a medal, on the occasion of his official visits to Thailand and Japan between November 19 and 26, to Her Majesty the Queen. Their Majesties and the Pope then posed for an official group photo and held a private discussion.
Relations between the Kingdom of Thailand and the Vatican City State were first established during the reign of King Narai the Great of Ayutthaya, with Pope Clement IX announcing the establishment of the Mission de Siam in 1669. Since then, Catholic missionary work has advanced in Thailand. His Majesty King Chulalongkorn the Great (Rama V), His Majesty King Prajadhipok (Rama VII) and Her Majesty Queen Rambai Barni visited the Vatican.
In 1960, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great (Rama IX) and Her Majesty Queen Sirikit the Queen Mother visited the Vatican and were granted an audience with Pope John XXIII at the Apostolic Palace.
On April 28, 1969, Thailand and the Vatican officially established diplomatic relations. On May 10, 1984, Their Majesties King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit held an audience with Pope John Paul II in the Chakri Maha Prasat Throne Hall. He was welcomed then His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, on behalf of His Majesty King Bhumibol, at Don Muang Royal Thai Air Force Base in Bangkok. His Majesty the King also paid an official visit to the Vatican on September 14, 1985, and was received by Pope John Paul II at the Apostolic Palace.
Pope Francis is the 266th Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Francis, whose full name is Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was born on December 17, 1936, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is currently 83 years old. A papal enclave elected him Pope on March 13, 2013. Pope Francis is the first Latin American and the first Jesuit to lead the church. Pope Francis is known to live a simple life. He recognizes the importance of education, culture, public health and social development.
Time Magazine proclaimed Pope Francis to be their 2013 Person of the Year. He has visited many countries to offer moral support and inspire the Christian community. There are some 380,000 Catholics in Thailand.