Global issues on agenda as President meets Pope
President Michael D Higgins is due to meet with Pope Francis in Rome this morning.
The encounter - which is their first since the papal inauguration in March 2013 - is being described as a discussion on issues of "global and regional importance".
The two are due to meet within the Papal Library in the Vatican and comes days before US President Donald Trump visits the Vatican. The President will also hold a meeting with Secretary of the State of the Vatican, Cardinal Parolin, before meeting Irish clergy and lay staff at the Vatican this afternoon.
President Higgins has praised the Argentinian Pope on a number of occasions, stating that "Pope Francis has emerged on the international stage as a figure of benevolence, great eloquence and outstanding diplomatic skill" during one address to Diplomatic Corps members.
Late last year, outgoing Taoiseach Enda Kenny also visited the Vatican where he spoke of the issue of abuse by Church clergy on children, saying he commended a strong statement the Pope had made in the United States previously on the situation.
Yesterday, the President was in Venice, where he visited the Biennale - the world's oldest and largest art exhibition.
President Higgins met with Dublin artist Jesse Jones, who was chosen as Ireland's representative at the exhibition, and with Christine Sisk, director of Cultural Ireland. He also met Tessa Giblin, curator of the exhibition.