Pope Francis, Benedict XVI meet and embrace at Castel Gandolfo

Vatican City, Mar 23 (EFE).- Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI met and embraced at Castel Gandolfo, where the former pope has lived since resigning the pontificate late last month, the Vatican's spokesman said.

Federico Lombardi also said that after greeting one another on the helipad of the papal residence, Francis and Benedict XVI went into the chapel to pray.

Benedict XVI offered the place of honor to Francis, who refused it with the words "we are brothers," after which the two knelt to pray in the same pew.

Both wore white vestments, Benedict XVI with a simple white cassock and Francis with another, also white, but with the short cape and sash that popes wear.

After prayers, they met alone in the private library, where they spoke for 45 minutes.

They then went to lunch with the secretaries Georg Ganswein, who is also head of the pontifical household, and Alfred Xuareb.

The meeting of the new pope and the pope emeritus was a particularly historic occasion, since no pontiff has resigned in nearly 600 years.