A statement from the Elysée Palace on June 18, 2018, officially announced that the President of the French Republic will be making a State visit to the Holy See on June 26.
“During this visit, the president of the Republic will be received by His Holiness Pope Francis for an audience, before meeting with the Cardinal Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin,” announced the Elysée.
The French head of State will also be “received at St. John Lateran in a ceremony marking his title as the first and only honorary canon of this basilica,” added the statement.
This custom began under Louis XI in 1482 but became almost an institution after Henry IV gave the Benedictine abbey of Clairac with all its revenues to the Lateran basilica.
In order to thank him, the chapter of the Lateran bestowed this title of canon on the head of State and promised to celebrate his birthday every year on December 13.
Under the Fifth Republic, Georges Pompidou, François Mitterrand and François Hollande have been the only presidents not to respect this custom of going to Rome to take possession of this title.