VATICAN CITY — Philippine President Corazon Aquino thanked Pope John Paul II on Saturday for his prayers during the 1986 revolution that brought her to power and said, "God's hand . . . snatched my country from the edge of calamity."
The leader of Asia's most Roman Catholic country met with John Paul at the conclusion of a 3-day visit to Italy.
Aquino spoke privately with the Polish-born pontiff for 35 minutes.
Afterward, she told him in a speech: "I bring with me the love and gratitude of the Filipino people: for His Holiness' visit to the Philippines in 1981, for the canonization of St. Lorenzo Ruiz last year, and for his prayers during the February revolution, when God's hand, working through the multitude of men, women and children, snatched my country from the edge of calamity and gently set it down in peace and freedom."
The Philippine Roman Catholic Church played a major role in the "people power" revolution that brought Aquino to power in 1986 and ended 20 years of rule by Ferdinand E. Marcos.
About 85% of the Philippines' 56 million people are Catholic.
The Pope praised Philippine democracy and the country's new agrarian reform program and called for a negotiated settlement of the Communist-backed insurgency.
Aquino, a practicing Catholic, has said she relies on prayer to help her govern. She has often sought political advice from church officials in the Philippines, including Cardinal Jaime Sin.
With Aquino on Saturday were her daughter, Kris, and members of the Philippine Cabinet.
Aquino, on a weeklong trip to Switzerland and Italy to encourage investment in her country, was flying back to the Philippines late Saturday.