Pope Benedict was quite busy this morning with audiences, but notable among them was his meeting with Professor Renato Guarini, the president of La Sapienza University. The rector is in charge of the same university that the Pontiff could not visit because of angry protests from a small group of students and professors.
According to Vatican sources, Guarini brought the presents with him that he was supposed to give to the Pope on January 17, the date of his cancelled commencement speech at Italy’s largest university.
According to the Vatican Press Office, the meeting between Pope Benedict and Guarini lasted 30 minutes, during which both spoke about "the role of the University in contemporary society," and its contribution to "building a new Humanism."
There were also "some reflections" about the cancellation of the Pope's visit, but the possibility of a new invitation for the Pope to visit La Sapienza, was not discussed.
Guarini gave the Pope two presents: a medal with the university's coat of arms and a facsimile copy of the 1303 Pope Boniface VIII's bull creating the 'Studium Urbis,' which would later become La Sapienza.
The Pope’s mid-January commencement speech was canceled in part because of 67 La Sapienza professors who wrote a letter protesting against the Pope's visit. Since the episode, several of them have retracted their protest, among them noted Italian physicist Andrea Frova, the author of a scientific biography of Galileo.