The Vatican on Thursday opened an exhibition devoted to art treasures from oil-rich Azerbaijan -- one of the few predominantly Muslim countries with which it enjoys close ties.
President Ilham Aliyev's wife Mehriban and Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Culture, inaugurated the show.
A foundation headed up by Mehriban Aliyev earlier this year financed the restoration of the early Christian catacombs of Marcellinus and Peter in Rome.
The Vatican said Azerbaijan was "a secular nation that encourages dialogue and multiple faiths". On a visit by Ravasi to Baku last year, Azerbaijan agreed to recognise the legal authority of the Catholic Church on its territory.