President Obama met with Pope Francis in Vatican City Thursday. At their parting they exchanged gifts. Among the presents President Obama gave Pope Francis was a special donation from Thomas Jefferson's Monticello.
Several national news outlets reported that the president offered a gift of seeds from the White House Garden in a box made of wood and leather from one of the oldest Catholic cathedrals in the United States. President Obama also said Monticello will donate seeds that will produce thousands of pounds of produce to a charity of the Pope's choosing. Monticello staff says they are honored to be a part of Thursday’s historic meeting.
The mansion is home to several gardens, with the main one stretching over 1,000 feet long.
Jefferson originally collected plants from around the world to find what grew well in the new land. Many foods grew on the property that were rarities at the time.
"Jefferson had 330 varieties of fruits and vegetables in that garden. He was constantly experimenting to find useful plants for the new nation, and he continued to exchange seeds and plants with friends around the world,” said Leslie Bowman, CEO of Monticello.
In 2010, Michelle Obama visited Monticello and planted seeds from her visit in the White House Garden.
Thursday’s gift will be featured in Pope Francis’ garden at his summer home, which he is opening to the public later this year. According to reports Pope Francis also offered a gift to President Obama on his visit. Obama received a plaque and a copy of the Pope's essay "The Joy of the Gospel".
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