VATICAN CITY (AP) — French President Francois Hollande met Friday with Pope Francis amid tensions in his private life over a gossip magazine’s report about an alleged affair with an actress.
Vatican Television covered Hollande’s arrival Friday live, showing the stately arrival of his motorcade in the Apostolic Palace courtyard, Hollande’s slow walk in the frescoed palace halls accompanied by Swiss Guards and finally his greeting with a solemn-faced Francis in the pope’s private study.
TV images showed a smiling Hollande presenting the pope with a book about St. Francis of Assisi, and the pope, in turn, gave him a medal for visitors.
Hours before the arrival, a small homemade bomb exploded in front of a French foundation that manages French architectural treasures in Rome, including five churches, and is headed by the French Embassy to the Holy See. The Carabinieri military police said no one was injured, but that a few windows of the palazzo were shattered and that three cars parked on the street outside were damaged.
Police said it wasn’t clear if the bomb, which contained metal bits as well as explosive powder, was related to Hollande’s visit or the foundation, which is located in the heart of Rome’s historic center.
Hollande has acknowledged “painful moments” in his relationship with his partner, Valerie Trierweiler. He said he would clarify his domestic situation before a Feb. 11 state visit to Washington, when Trierweiler would normally accompany him.
Trierweiler, 48, who was not married to Hollande, was hospitalized Jan. 10, a day after Closer magazine reported that Hollande was seeing actress Julie Gayet.
The magazine published photos showing a man it said was the president, wearing a helmet and seated on the back of a scooter, allegedly being taken to a rendezvous with Gayet.
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