Ahead of Tuesday’s summit in Singapore between the leaders of the United States and North Korea, Pope Francis prays for a future of peace on the Korean peninsula and throughout the world.
By Devin Watkins

Pope Francis on Sunday renewed his prayers for the “beloved Korean people”.

He prayed that the upcoming summit between the leaders of the United States and North Korea “may contribute to the development of a positive path to assure a future of peace on the Korean peninsula and throughout the world.”

The Pope was referring to a meeting scheduled for Tuesday, June 12th, in Singapore between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Pope Francis invited all people around the world to pray for the first meeting between a North Korean leader and a sitting US president.
“Let us together invoke Our Lady, Queen of Korea. May she guide these talks,” he said.

Both men arrived in Singapore on Sunday, where they meet separately with Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong before the summit.


Tuesday Papal Tweet: Let’s work together to increase solidarity and sharing. Cooperation helps to build better and more peaceful societies.

Entertaining family and friends in my home is one of the greatest pleasures of my life in Rome. I love my home, the view of St. Peter’s dome and just about everything about living in this neighborhood, and sharing all that beauty and fascination with friends over what I always hope is a good meal is sheer joy. In addition, over the years I have been given with many beautiful things, including my grandparents 1905 Bavarian crystal that was a wedding gift, all of which enhance a lovely setting and doubles the joy of sharing.

Sunday evening I had a dinner party for six Patrons of the Vatican Museums from Singapore – the first ever dinner party where I met my guests for the first time at the front door!

A few months back the Patrons office in the Vatican had written me, suggesting a novel idea for the 28 Patrons who were to visit Rome and the Vatican from Singapore: Would those of us who live in Rome and were Patrons be willing to host 6 to 8 of the Singapore group for dinner? Of course, I would!

In all my years of entertaining this was one of most fascinating group of guests and stimulating conversations I ever recall! Six of the most cultured people imaginable from very different cultures – China, India and the Philippines – but all now Singapore residents joined me and my houseguest Tricia from Washington.

They graced my home with their presence and knowledge and wonderful stories. Tricia and I were riveted by their backgrounds, the story of how the Singapore Patrons were born (the founders were at my table!), the exchange about how different our cultures were – the United States, Italy and the Asian cultures they came from, and on and on. One guest, Sat Pal, recited some beautiful poetry by heart, and you could have heard the proverbial pin drop!

I rarely write about dinner parties but Sunday was unique in many ways, and I know I was greatly enriched by the presence of these new and wonderful friends! (Apologies to Tricia – she took the photos but is not in any taken with my camera!)

It seems Asia is the unintended focus of today’s column – read on for a fascinating story…


(ROME, May 2 – Korea Bizwire) A team of Italian experts has succeeded in the restoration of a globe at a museum dedicated to Pope John XXIII by using the Korean traditional paper “hanji” after one year of work, the South Korean consulate general in Milan said Sunday.

South Korean Consul General in Milan Chang Jae-bok (L) and art conservationist Nella Poggi, attend a press conference at the town hall of Sotto il Monte Giovanni Ventitre near Italy’s Bergamo on April 28, 2017, to mark the completion of the restoration of a globe at a museum dedicated to Pope John XXIII by using the Korean traditional paper “hanji” (image: Yonhap):

The team, led by art conservationist Nella Poggi, South Korean Consul General Chang Jae-bok and representatives of a foundation on the late pontiff attended a press conference at the town hall of Sotto il Monte Giovanni Ventitre near located near Italy’s Bergamo on Friday to mark the completion of the restoration of the globe, a cultural asset of the Vatican City.

Believed to have been made in June 1960, the globe was ordered by Pope John XXIII who was in office from 1958 to 1963.

It is estimated to have a significant meaning in the history of the Catholic Church as it has a complete map of all the dioceses of the church in the world at the beginning of the 1960s as well as places where the pontiff went on pilgrimages.

During the press conference, restorer Poggi was quoted as saying his work was not easy because the globe was badly damaged as more than a half century passed since it was made and had the shape of a sphere.

But Poggi said the good tension held by hanji helped him carry out the work, the South Korean diplomatic mission said.

Consul General Chang expressed his pleasure over the restoration of the artifact loved by Pope John XXIII through hanji, a typical Korean cultural asset.

He hoped that “South Korea and Italy will enhance their relations by cooperating in the utilization of cultural assets.”

Since 2014, the South Korean consulate general has carried out a project to have art restorers in Italy and other parts of Europe where Japanese paper has been the overwhelming choice of art conservation, know about the superiority of hanji.

The museum in the Italian town, the hometown of Pope John XXIII, plans to unveil the restored globe to the public soon.

The Korean paper used for the restoration was provided by hanji producer Shin Hyun-se Traditional Hanji Studio, in Uiryeong, southeastern South Korea.

The studio’s paper was also used in a work to the Chartula, one of the most beloved items of Italian cultural heritage. The Chartula is a handwritten prayer on parchment by St. Francis of Assisi (1182~1226), a Roman Catholic saint and one of the patron saints of Italy, in 1224.

(JFL: Korean paper or hanji is the name of traditional handmade paper from Korea. Hanji is made from the inner bark of paper mulbery, a tree native to Korea that grows well on its rocky mountainsides, known in Korean as dak. The formation aid crucial to making hanji is the mucilage that oozes from the roots of hibiscus manihot. This substance helps suspend the individual fibers in water. Wikipedia)