Pope Francis presents Abbas peace medallion at Vatican


(JTA) — Pope Francis presented Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas with a peace medallion.

Abbas and the pope met privately for 20 minutes at the Vatican on Saturday, a day before Francis canonized two 19th-century Palestinian nuns.

“May the angel of peace destroy the evil spirit of war. I thought of you: may you be an angel of peace,” the pope said in presenting the medallion, according to the Vatican Insider.

Abbas also met Saturday with the Vatican’s secretary of state to discuss an agreement reached last week covering the Vatican’s interests in the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, including churches in the territories, taxes on church charities and cultural and diplomatic issues. Vatican representatives also reiterated the hope that both sides would make “bold decisions” in order to achieve peace.

Sisters Mariam Bawardy and Marie Alphonsine Ghattas were among four nuns who were made saints on Sunday at a Mass in St. Peter’s Square.

Abbas and about 2,000 Palestinian pilgrims, some waving Palestinian flags, were present for the canonization, the Associated Press reported. Israel also sent a delegation.

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