Eurolactis founder, Pierluigi Orunesu, met Pope Francis yesterday in the grounds of the Vatican, where he presented His Holiness with two young donkeys,called Noah and Thea.
Two baskets of Eurolactis' Onalat donkey milk powder were also donated to the Pope for the maternity unit of the Vatican paediatric hospital.
Orunesu was granted a private audience with Pope Francis, who arrived by Pope Mobile, after a request he made last year was approved by the Vatican.
Speaking with DairyReporter.com, Orunesu said the meeting was "truly an amazing and unique moment."
“He was very happy."
“I told him he will have two friends for life,” said Orunesu, referring to Thea and Noah.
He added that Pope Francis confided in him that donkey milk played a big role in his Argentinian upbringing.
"Pope Francis told me today - in front of media - that his mother regularly gave him donkey's milk when she could not provide enough breast milk or later on when he was a child," he said.
Orunesu acknowledged that his meeting with the Bishop of Rome was a great endorsement for Eurolactis.
His visit to the Vatican coincides with Eurolactis' scheduled January 2015 UHT donkey milk launch.
The 100ml mono-dose cartons are set to hit shelves in France, Italy and Switzerland in the New Year - the first time donkey milk has been sold in a carton.
"This format will enable everyone to enjoy the exceptional nutritional benefits of delicious and easily-digestible asses' milk, an entirely natural product containing no preservatives," said the company.
Alongside its UHT milk, Eurolactis markets powdered donkey milk under its Onalat brand and a range of cosmetic products.
It also recently launched a clinical trial involving 150 premature babies at the Regina Margherita Hospital in Turin.
Premature infants will be fed concentrated donkey milk protein during the course of the study.
Donkey has unique characteristics that make it very similar to human breast milk, according to Eurolactis.
It is high in vitamin C, contains up to four-times less fat than other commercially available milk, as much as three-times more omega-3, and it's naturally hypoallergenic.