Sylvester Stallone is known for playing Italian-American Rocky Balboa in the Oscar-winning film from 1976, but today he was caught sparring with one opponent he had probably never expected to face.
For his meeting with the Pope at the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican City, the action star was accompanied by his wife, Jennifer Flavin, and their three adult daughters Sophia, Sistine and Scarlet, as well as his brother Frank.
Playing up to his public persona, Stallone was seen shadow boxing with the 86-year-old pontiff as he jested: ‘Ready? We box.’
He then raised his fists like a prized fighter before the pope, wearing his traditional white robe and a skullcap, did his best imitation.
Posting about his visit on Instagram, accompanied by an image of him holding five key rings with several keys on each, Stallone, 77, wrote: ‘Very rare and special moment. I was allowed to hold the KEYS that open EVERY single door in the entire Vatican City! Including the Sistine Chapel.
Stallone can be seen raising his fists like a prized fighter before the pope, wearing his traditional white robes and a skullcap, does his best imitation, surrounded by Stallone’s family members
Stallone shaking hands with Pope Francis at the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican City
The action star was accompanied by his wife, Jennifer Flavin, and their three adult daughters Sophia, Sistine and Scarlet, , as well as his brother Frank
‘Of course they wouldn’t let me out of their sight with the KEYS … I don’t blame them!’
He added that the couple were glad they had named their ‘beautiful daughter’ Sistine.
Stallone’s Rocky Balboa character was the only child in a Roman Catholic Italian-American family, reflecting the heritage of the actor’s father.
The action movie legend was in Italy promoting his Paramount + show, Tulsa King, set to be streamed from November 15.
In the series, Stallone plays mafia member Dwight ‘The General’ Manfredi who tries to reconnect with his gangster family after his prison release.
Exiled from his former family, he then moves from New York to Tulsa, Oklahoma where he starts a criminal empire.
In September last year, Stallone and his estranged wife called off their divorce and reconciled.
Sylvester Stallone took to Instagram to post a message about his visit. The accompanying photo showed him holding the keys to the Vatican
Stallone with his family meeting Pope Francis. The Hollywood star said that the couple were glad they had named their ‘beautiful daughter’ Sistine
The couple, who have been together for 26 years, ‘decided to meet up at home, where they talked and were able to work out their differences’.
They are both ‘extremely happy,’ their rep told Page Six at the time.
Their reconciliation came one month after Flavin, 55, filed for divorce.
On Saturday, Pope Francis praised Mongolia’s tradition of religious freedom dating to the times of its founder, Genghis Khan, as he opened the first-ever papal visit to the Asian nation with a word of encouragement to its tiny Catholic flock.
Francis met with President Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh inside a traditional Mongolian ger, or round yurt, set up inside the state palace and wrote a message in the guest book that he was visiting ‘a country young and ancient, modern and rich of tradition,’ as a pilgrim of peace.
Francis was in Mongolia to minister to one of the world’s newest and smallest Catholic communities – made up of around 1,450 Mongolians – and make a diplomatic foray into a region where the Holy See has long had troubled relations, with Russia to the north and China to the south.