President Mahinda Rajapaksa left the Island last afternoon for a visit to Italy and the Vatican on an invitation by the Holy See.
President Rajapaksa arrived at Fiumicino Airport in Rome last evening.
The highlight of the President's visit will be an audience with His Holiness Pope Francis at Apostolic Palace which will take place today.
Thereafter President Rajapaksa will have talks with His Eminence Pietro Cardinal Parolin, Secretary of State and Prime Minister of the Holy See.
During his stay in Italy, President will meet Sri Lankan expatriates living there and will also have discussions with SLFP organizers for the European Union, Rome and Northern Italy.
Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Sri Lanka from January 13th to 15th.
During his visit the Pope will hold discussions with the President and conduct a special mass at Galle Face Greens in Colombo.
He will also visit Madhu Church in Mannar.