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Tony Blair with the Pope at the Vatican last Saturday
The Pope took the unusual step of inviting Tony and Cherie Blair to a private Mass in the Vatican yesterday, a move that marks Mrs Blair's entry into the ranks of Britain's most influential Roman Catholics.
The invitation to the service, conducted by the 82-year-old Pontiff in the presence of the Blairs and four seminarians, surprised observers on the final day of a secretive weekend visit to Rome by the Prime Minister, his wife and some of their children.
It is the first time that a serving British prime minister has attended a private Mass with the Pope. The honour is rarely granted to political figures, and they are usually Italian.
The Mass took place in the Vatican at 7.30am yesterday.