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President Obama and Pope Francis / Gabriel Bouys, AFP/Getty Images

President Obama presented Pope Francis with a custom-made seed chest on Thursday, containing fruit and vegetable seeds used in the White House garden.

The gift was inspired by the pope's decision to grant public access to the gardens of the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo, the pope's summer residence, according to a White House statement.

Obama and Francis met for 52 minutes at Vatican City.

The pope presented the president with a plaque of some kind, and an encyclical.

"I will treasure this," Obama said. "I actually will probably read this (encyclical) in the Oval Office when I'm deeply frustrated. I'm sure it will give me strength and calm me down."

The seed chest from Obama is made from American leather and wood reclaimed from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, one of the oldest Catholic cathedrals built in the United States.

The inscription on the chest reads:

"Presented to His Holiness Pope Francis

by Barack Obama

President of the United States of America

March 27, 2014"

The White House said that "in keeping with the spirit of the gift, Thomas Jefferson's Monticello will donate seeds that will yield several tons of produce to a charity of Pope Francis' choosing."



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Obama's gift to Pope Francis: A seed chest

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