Pope Francis had a private audience with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg on Monday (29 August). The chief executive of the social media site and his wife, Priscilla Chan, were granted a personal invitation to the Vatican to meet the Pope during their sojourn in Italy.
Zuckerberg, who is renowned for his uniform grey t-shirts, even dressed for the occasion, donning a dark suit and tie, while Chan looked demure in a black, knee-length dress. During their informal conversation the tech billionaire and the Pontiff discussed the possibilities of using modern communication technologies to alleviate poverty.
Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said they addressed a need to "encourage a culture of encounter, and make a message of hope arrive, especially to those most in need".
The intimate chat took place in the Santa Marta residence, the guest house in the Pope's residence within Vatican City, Sky News reports
Zuckerberg has pledged to bring the Internet to communities around the world who currently do not have connectivity. Last year, he announced a plan to provide refugee camps with Internet access. In a collaboration with U2 frontman Bono, the pair revealed their plans to get everyone online by 2020, a step they believe is "necessary for development."
Zuckerberg presented Pope Francis an Aquila-Facebook solar-powered drone designed to help the Internet expand to and improve in developing countries. The aircraft successfully completed its first test flight just two months ago, Fortune reports.
Writing on his Facebook page the 32-year-old said it was an honour to meet the Pope. "We told him how much we admire his message of mercy and tenderness, and how he's found new ways to communicate with people of every faith around the world.
"It was a meeting we'll never forget. You can feel his warmth and kindness, and how deeply he cares about helping people."
The social media entrepreneur's tour of Italy also included a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in the aftermath of the Amatrice earthquake which left 281 dead.
Talking about the meeting he wrote: "We talked about last week's earthquake and how the Facebook community in Italy and around the world has come together to help people recover and rebuild. I told the Prime Minister I'm especially excited with the work being done across Europe on artificial intelligence," he added.
Zuckerberg and his wife are visiting Italy after attending a friend's wedding in Lake Como.