From Thursday 15 to Saturday 17 December, The Crown Princess Couple were in Italy, where they visited the cities of Rome and Milan. They were accompanied by Minister for Upper Secondary School and Adult Education and Training Anna Ekström.
The aim of the visit was to promote health-related and cultural issues, and to promote Swedish industry. Sweden enjoys a positive image in Italy, and the aim was also to deepen relations between the two nations.
On the Thursday afternoon, the visit began in Rome at the Chamber of Deputies, la Camera dei Deputati, where The Crown Princess Couple and Minister Anna Ekström held a meeting with President of the Chamber of Deputies Laura Boldrini.
During their meeting, Ms Boldrini spoke about the current political situation in Italy, and issues relating to the environment, health and equality were also discussed.
After their meeting, Ms Boldrini showed the visitors la Sala delle donne, 'the Women's Room'.
The second item on the agenda for the day was a visit to the Bridgettine Sisters at the Convent Church of Santa Brigida in the heart of Rome, on the Piazza Farnese. The Crown Princess Couple and Minister Ekström met Mother Tekla and Mother Fabia. Mother Tekla recent retired from the position of Abbess General of the Bridgettine Order in Rome, a position she had held since the 1980s. Mother Fabia has now succeeded Mother Tekla.
During the meeting with Mother Tekla at the Convent Church of Santa Brigida. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT
Birgitta Birgersdotter, Saint Bridget of Sweden, was born in around 1303, probably in Finsta, Uppland. In autumn 1349 she travelled to Rome to obtain the Pope's approval to establish an abbey for her order. On her death in 1373, the house on the Piazza Farnese where she had lived was donated to Vadstena Abbey.
Vadstena Abbey, which had been planned by Saint Bridget, was made possible thanks to generous donations from King Magnus Eriksson and Queen Blanche of Namur in 1346 and was dedicated in October 1384, eleven years after Saint Bridget's death.
Saint Bridget was named as a patron saint of Europe by Pope John Paul II in 1999.
The afternoon continued with The Crown Princess Couple and Minister Ekström visiting football club AS Roma to find out about the Calcio Insieme (Football Together) project, whereby children with disabilities are given the opportunity to take part in high quality football coaching.
At the Campo Pio XI facility, the club's Director-General Mauro Baldissoni welcomed the visitors and presented the project. AS Roma is running the project together with the charity organisation Roma Cares. The aim is to promote the children's physical, social and mental wellbeing. AS Roma is providing training facilities, a group of doctors, speech therapists, psychologists and specialist instructors.
The day in Rome concluded with a reception at the Swedish Residence, with the Swedish Embassy's annual Lucia reception. The event was hosted by Sweden's ambassador to Italy, Robert Rydberg.