Pope Francis meets with Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Al-Husayni Al-Sistani who is Leader of the Shiites, in the city of Najaf, Iraq - VIDEO

Pope Francis went to visit the Grand Ayatollah, and was first met by his son, Mohammed Rida. The Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Al-Husayni Al-Sistani is the leader of Iraq's Shiites, who comprise more than 60 percent of the population, and is an influential figure in global Shiism and throughout the country.

The Pope traveled to meet him in the city of Najaf which is located about 160 km south of Baghdad, 30 km from ancient Babylon, and 400 km north of the biblical city of Ur.

It was was founded in 791 AD by Caliph Hārūn al-Rashīd, and its development took place mostly after the 10th century.

Najaf is Iraq's main Shiite religious centre and a pilgrimage destination for Shiites from around the world.  


Statement by the Director of the Press Office

regarding the visit of Pope Francis to Grand Ayatollah Al-Sistani in Najaf


This morning, in Najaf, the Holy Father met Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Ali al-Husayni al-Sistani. During the courtesy visit, which lasted about forty five minutes, the Holy Father stressed the importance of cooperation and friendship between religious communities for contributing – through the cultivation of mutual respect and dialogue – to the good of Iraq, the region and the entire human family.

The meeting was an occasion for the Pope to thank Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani for speaking up – together with the Shiite community – in defence of those most vulnerable and persecuted amid the violence and great hardships of recent years, and for affirming the sacredness of human life and the importance of the unity of the Iraqi people.

In taking leave of the Grand Ayatollah, the Holy Father stated that he continues to pray that God, the Creator of all, will grant a future of peace and fraternity for the beloved land of Iraq, for the Middle East and for the whole world.

Source: https://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/it/bollettino/pubblico/2021/03/06/0136/00302.html#in