Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral on Monday brought together religious and political leaders from across the globe, but Pope Francis was not among them.
The pope sent another Catholic leader in his place: Archbishop Paul Gallagher, who is both a priest and a diplomat.
“Vatican sources confirm that Archbishop Paul Gallagher will represent Pope Francis at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. The archbishop is Secretary for Relations with States (equivalent of Foreign Minister), and the most senior Englishman in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State,” tweeted Gerard O’Connell, who covers the Vatican for America magazine, on Thursday.
Archbishop Gallagher was accompanied by several other prominent Catholic leaders, including Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, the Holy See’s envoy to Great Britain.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, who leads the Catholic Diocese of Westminster, read a prayer during Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral on Monday.
The presence of so many Catholic leaders at the funeral in Great Britain and beyond is “a tribute to how the Queen helped to bridge the divide between Catholics and Anglicans,” tweeted Christopher Lamb, the Rome correspondent for Tablet magazine.
Although Pope Francis did not attend the funeral, he sent a message to King Charles II after Queen Elizabeth II’s death. He shared that he was “deeply saddened to learn of the death” and praying for the new king.
“Upon you and all who cherish the memory of your late mother, I invoke an abundance of divine blessings as a pledge of comfort and strength in the Lord,” the pope said on Sept. 8.
Pope Francis and Queen Elizabeth II met at the Vatican in April 2014.
“You could see there was a very, very warm feeling between them,” O’Connell said during the Sept. 15 episode of “Inside the Vatican,” the podcast he co-hosts.