The Cuban President Raul Castro paid a special visit to Pope Francis in Vatican City on Sunday.
The stopover comes ahead of the pontiff’s trip to the US and Cuba in September.
The brother of the revolutionary leader Fidel Castro spoke with the Pope for 55 minutes.
It is unusual for the Pope to meet with someone for such a long time and meetings on Sundays are also extremely rare.
The Vatican said this was strictly private and not a state visit as the Cuban leader is on the way back from Russia.
During their talk the Pope is understood to have highlighted the need to eradicate poverty around the world.
At the end of the meeting Raul Castro gave Pope Francis a medal commemorating 200 years of Havana Cathedral and a painting by the Cuban artist Kocho.
Castro is expected to meet with the Italian Prime Minister Mateo Renzi before leaving Rome.
The first Pope to hail from Latin America helped broker an historic thaw between the United States and Cuba in December.
The two countries agreed to restore diplomatic ties that Washington severed half a century ago.