Pope Benedict and Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, both octogenarians, joked about their age in a brief meeting in Cuba.
The two world figures chatted for about 30 minutes at the Vatican Embassy in Havana near the end of the Pope’s three-day visit to the country.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said Benedict, 84, and Fidel, 85, had an "exchange of ideas" in a "very cordial" atmosphere.
The former Cuban leader arrived for his meeting in a green Mercedes SUV amid heavy security that included armed guards in a phalanx of surrounding black Mercedes cars.
"What does a Pope do?" Fidel asked Benedict, who is just one year his junior.
The Pontiff told him of his ministry, his foreign trips and his service to the Church, saying he was happy to be in Cuba and with the welcome he received.
Dressed in a dark tracksuit and wearing a scarf despite the searing heat outside, Fidel told Benedict he had watched his whole visit on television.
Two of his children were also given the chance to meet the Pope.