The Pope met with Gibraltar’s chief minister and governor, saying its interfaith harmony must be “conserved and preserved”.
Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory, borders Spain and has a clear view of Morocco’s coast, while its name comes from Arabic.
Pope Francis had a 30 minute meeting in the Vatican on Thursday with Gibraltar’s Governor, Vice Admiral Sir David Steel, and its recently re-elected Chief Minister Fabian Picardo.
The multicultural territory is an example of the King’s vision of a “community of communities as a reflection of successful multiculturalism”, says Sir David.
The territory is heavily multiethnic, with King Charles III as head of state but a 72 per cent Roman Catholic population due to Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese influences.
It also has an ancient Jewish community of 800 members, with five synagogues.
Its Muslim community prays at the Ibrahim-al Ibrahim mosque at Europa Point, Gibraltar’s southernmost tip, completed in 1997. The €5.7 million mosque was paid for by the late King Fahd of Saudi Arabia.
Pope Francis presented the governor with a model of an olive branch, as well as a copy of his encyclicals, and a signed copy of his annual Message for Peace.
The governor, in return, gave the Pope a facsimile document from the Garrison Library, and a biography of Gibraltar’s former Bishop Edward Rapallo.
These will now join the Pope’s extensive collection of well-intentioned gifts, which include a 186-mph Bianco Monoceros-White Lamborghini Huracan presented by the car manufacturer, and a Harley-Davidson Dyna Super Glide chopper which the motorcycle giant gave the Pope in 2013.