VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI met with Laura Bush in his private library on Thursday and wished the first lady "a peaceful time" at the upcoming Olympics in Turin, where she is heading the U.S. delegation.
"We're looking forward to the games," Mrs. Bush told the pope as she arrived with her daughter Barbara and the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, Francis Rooney.
During the 20-minute meeting, Mrs. Bush gave Benedict a small silver bowl; the pope in turn gave the first lady and Barbara rosaries and Rooney a Vatican medal.
"We hope you will have a peaceful time," Benedict told the first lady as he warmly welcomed her and gestured for the three of them to join him at his desk.
The first lady wore a black suit and black lace mantilla, or head covering. Barbara, 24, wore a black skirt and black top and high-heeled black boots.
As she left, the first lady told the pope that President Bush "sends his best wishes." She said she would also relay the pope's good wishes back to him.
On the eve of the visit, the first lady told Vatican Radio in an interview broadcast Thursday: "The American people are a religious people, of course all different religions. But we share a lot of the same values with the Catholic Church."
She also talked about Benedict's predecessor, John Paul II, whom she met several times. "We loved him, we were always really impressed by his goodness and his deep compassion for people around the world," said the first lady, who accompanied President Bush to John Paul's April 8 funeral.
After the meeting at the Vatican, Mrs. Bush was scheduled to have lunch with Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi and visit a Rome hospital for a breast cancer awareness event.
The Olympics in Turin, Italy, open Friday and end Feb. 26. Mrs. Bush is heading a U.S. Olympic delegation that includes former Olympians Dorothy Hamil, Kerri Strug, Eric Heiden, Debi Thomas and Herschel Walker, the White House said.