Icelandic president to meet with Pope Benedict

The President of Iceland, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, will travel to Rome next week for a private meeting with Pope Benedict XVI.

President Grimsson will present the pope with a statue of Gudridur Thorbjarnardottir, and will then have a private audience with the leader of the Roman Catholic church.

The official reason for the visit is so that the president can present the statue. Gudridur Thorbjarnardottir lived around the year 1000 and was considered one of the best travelled women anywhere in her day. She was born in Iceland before sailing to Greenland and on to Vinland (North America) before travelling widely in Europe. She eventually settled at Glaumbaer in Skagafjordur, Iceland. But when she became a widow, she set off once more — this time to Rome, where she presented the pope with memoirs of her travels.

Leif the Lucky is said to have saved a group of people, including Gudridur and her first husband, from a reef and brought them to shore at Brattahlid, where the husband, Thor, got ill and died. Gudridur then married Thorsteinn Eiriksson, the brother of Leif the Lucky. He too became ill and died and Gudridur eventually ended up marrying Thorfinnur Karlsefni Thordarsson from Glaumbaer in Skagafjordur.

The statue President Grimsson will present is by Asmundur Sveinsson and is an addition to the three already in existence. One of them is at Glaumbaer, another at Laugarbrekka on Snaefellsnes and the third is in Ottawa, Canada.

The Pope will grant the President a private audience, which is considered a great honour reserved solely for bishops, heads of state and others with particularly pressing and relevant reasons to talk to the pontiff, Visir reported.

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