Vice President Mike Pence told Pope Francis, “You made me a hero" back home by granting him a private audience at the Vatican on Friday. The pontiff and the vice president had a private hour-long conversation, per the AP. Pence was beaming when the rest of his delegation was ushered into the papal library after the one-on-one talk. The hero description apparently referred to Pence's roots in a Catholic family. He later became an evangelical Christian. Before journalists were ushered out of the library, Pence told Francis: "I want to extend the warmest greeting on the part of President Donald Trump, who so enjoyed his visit here.'' Pence said Trump had asked him to send along his regards.
Pence, his wife, and daughter-in-law were greeted at Rome's Ciampino airport by the US ambassador to the Holy See, Callista Gingrich, and her husband, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Francis smiled warmly throughout the traditional exchange of gifts: Pence presented Francis with a large, plain wooden cross, which he explained was made from wood from a tree on the grounds of the vice president's official residence in Washington. Francis gave Pence five bound books of his writings as pope, as well as a copy of the annual peace message. (The audience came on the same day that Trump is attending an anti-abortion rally in Washington, the first sitting US president to do so in the history of the annual March for Life’s history.)