Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio is used to being the biggest star in the room, but even he was humbled when he met Pope Francis.
The private meeting took place at the Vatican on Thursday in recognition of the actor’s commitment to defending the environment.
Video has been released of DiCaprio greeting the Pope in Italian and presenting him with a book of art from the Dutch Renaissance painter, Hieronymus Bosch.
The Oscar nominee and environmental campaigner showed the Pope a reproduction of Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights.
The triptych, which DiCaprio has referred to in the past, depicts Adam and Eve in the first panel, a teeming landscape in the centre panel, and finally a vision of hell.
He explained a print that had hung over his crib when he was young had had an impact on him.
“As a child I didn’t quite understand what it all meant, but through my child’s eyes it represented a planet, the utopia we had been given, the overpopulation, excesses, and the third panel we see a blackened sky that represents so much to me of what’s going on in the environment,” DiCaprio told the pope.
DiCaprio said he thought the painting also represented Pope Francis’ environmental concerns. He also gave the pope a cheque for a charity “close to your heart”.
“At the end of the encounter, DiCaprio kissed the Pope’s ring, and, in Italian, thanked the Holy Father for meeting with him,” Vatican Radio said.
The Pope gave the actor a leather-bound copy of his encyclical Laudato Si, published last year, plus a copy of one of his earlier works, Evangelii Gaudium, published in 2013.
Francis’ Laudato Si has been embraced by environmentalists for its denunciation of the world’s fossil fuel-based economy and its demand for greener energy sources.