Pope Francis received U.S. actor and director Sylvester “Sly” Stallone at the Vatican on Friday morning.
The “Rocky” actor met the pope in the Apostolic Palace together with his brother, actor and musician Frank Stallone; his wife, Jennifer Flavin; and their three daughters: Sophie, Sistine, and Scarlet.
The Vatican released photos of the meeting but did not provide details of the encounter.
A video shared by Vatican News showed Pope Francis meeting Stallone and telling him, “We grew up with your films.” Stallone, jokingly making fists, responded: “Ready, we box!”
Stallone visited the town of Gioia del Colle in the southern Italian region of Puglia with his brother Frank and other members of his family on Sept. 7.
The brothers were granted honorary citizenship of Gioia del Colle because of their ties to the town: Their father was born there before immigrating to the United States as an adolescent in the early 1930s.
According to local media, Stallone visited his paternal grandfather’s home and greeted residents of the town.
From a stage, he held up an old key. “This was the key of [my grandfather’s] shop; he was the barber,” Stallone said, according to TG24.
“As Rocky would say: I love you, and keep fighting,” Stallone said to close his speech.
In an interview with the National Catholic Register in 2007, Stallone said the birth of his daughter in the late 1990s was an important crossroad for his Catholic faith.
“When my daughter was born sick, and I realized I really needed some help here, I started putting everything in God’s hands, his omnipotence, his all-forgivingness,” he said.
The Register reported at the time that Stallone had been raised Catholic, but after years in which he stopped going to church, he had begun to consider himself a churchgoing Catholic again.
“[This] puts me where I should be,” the “Rambo” director said, noting that before his return to the faith, “I was alone in the world. I thought I would have to handle things my own way.”