This Thursday, 2 June, marks the start of a weekend of celebrations across the United Kingdom to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s 70 years on the throne.
Marking this milestone, Pope Francis has sent a telegram to the Queen offering his prayers and good wishes.
In it, he says: “On this joyful occasion of your Majesty’s birthday, and as you celebrate this Platinum Jubilee year, I send cordial greetings and good wishes, together with the renewed assurance of my prayers that Almighty God will bestow upon you, the members of the Royal Family and all the people of the nation blessings of unity, prosperity and peace.”
The Pope also said he joined with those expressing appreciation for her persevering and steadfast service to the good of the nation, “the advancement of its people, and the preservation of its illustrious spiritual, cultural and political heritage.”
Care of Creation
In recognition of the monarch’s commitment to the care of God’s creation, Pope Francis is donating a Cedar of Lebanon to the Queen’s Green Canopy initiative.
He expressed the hope that this tree, which in the Bible symbolises the flourishing of fortitude, justice and prosperity, would be a pledge of abundant divine blessings upon her realm.
The project invites people from across the United Kingdom to “Plant a Tree for the Jubilee”.
As well as inviting the planting of new trees, The Queen’s Green Canopy will dedicate a network of 70 Ancient Woodlands across the United Kingdom and identify 70 Ancient Trees to celebrate Her Majesty’s 70 years of service.
The Queen and the Popes
Queen Elizabeth II and her late husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, met with Pope Francis in the Vatican in 2014.
The meeting marked the 100th anniversary of the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the United Kingdom and the Holy See.
Following the meeting, Pope Francis gifted the couple a facsimile of Pope Innocent XI’s order extending the cult of St. Edward the Confessor.
Queen Elizabeth gave the Pope a large basket of food from the estates surrounding her homes; the items included an assortment of honey, a dozen eggs, a haunch of venison, shortbread, juice, preserves, and Balmoral whiskey.
Queen Elizabeth has met four Popes as Queen, five in her lifetime. She ascended to the throne in 1952 at the age of 25, after the death of her father, King George VI.
The monarch first visited the Vatican in 1951 as Princess Elizabeth. The Pope at the time was Pius XII. Queen Elizabeth’s first visit as Queen took place on 5 May 1961. She and Prince Philip were received in audience by Pope John XXIII.
In 1980, Queen Elizabeth made a state visit to the Vatican and was received in audience by Pope John Paul II. Just two years later he made a pastoral visit to Great Britain.
With the dawn of the new millennium, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II visited the Vatican once again, in October 2000.
In September 2010, Pope Benedict XVI visited Great Britain on an Apostolic Journey on the occasion of the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman and met the Queen in Edinburgh.