PATRIOTIC Front (PF) deputy secretary general Mumbi Phiri says meeting Pope Francis at the Vatican would strengthen her Catholic faith and would be a memory to hold on to for the rest of her life.

Mrs Mumbi, who was part of the delegation that accompanied President Edgar Lungu to Italy and France, said it was a privilege for her to meet the Pope as an ordinary citizen.

‘‘As a Catholic it has given me honour and I know I am truly favoured by God, ‘’ she said.

She was thrilled by the treatment the Zambian delegation received at the Vatican.

She added that unlike the normal custom and treatment given to people accompanying any head of state that visited the Vatican, President Lungu’s entourage was allowed to meet the Pope inside the Vatican.

‘‘Usually what happens is that the people that accompany the president or any important person to see the Pope are not allowed to go inside; he comes out to meet them from the library but for us we were allowed to go in and see him.

‘‘For me this was an experience I can’t even explain because I was given such a warm reception when I went there just as an ordinary member of the country, ‘’ Mrs Mumbi said.

She added that President Lungu was favoured as he was the first Zambian leader invited to meet the Pope.

The PF deputy secretary said the visit was unique as the cardinals who received them revealed to them that the time Pope Francis took to meet President Lungu was unusually long as most visitors were given less time.

‘’ When we arrived at the Vatican it was unique, even the cardinals who received us told us that even the time the Pope spoke with our President, the 20 minutes or so, was too much,’’ she explained.

She thanked the President for according her an opportunity

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