Click here to view video of Pope's Space Station talk.
"Dear astronauts, I am very happy to have this extraordinary opportunity to converse with you during your mission and especially grateful to be able to speak to so many of you as both crews are present on the space station at this time," the Pope said.
The video call, began at about 7:11 a.m. EDT, originated from the Foconi Room of the Vatican Library in Rome, Italy. It was organized by the European Space Agency (ESA), whose astronauts Paolo Nespoli and Roberto Vittori are currently working in space.
The conversation marked the first time that a Pope has spoken with astronauts in orbit. Pope Benedict XVI asked the astronauts of their impressions of Earth from space and sent his heartfelt condolences to Nespoli, who's mother died earlier this month while he was in space.
Joining the two Italians for the space-to-ground conversation were the U.S. and Russian crew members of space shuttle Endeavour's STS-134 mission and the space station’s Expedition 27 crew.
"Welcome aboard the International Space Station, your Holiness," Endeavour commander Mark Kelly said during the live video link.
The Pope said he hopes Kelly's wife, Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, continues to improve as she recovers from an assassination attempt in January. Kelly thanked him for the kind thoughts.
ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter, who like Pope Benedict XVI is German, joined His Holiness in The Vatican together with the president of the Italian Space Agency Enrico Saggese and General Giuseppe Bernardis with the Italian Air Force.
Vittori, who launched with Endeavour on its 16-day final mission, carried to space a silver medal donated by the Pope.
"This conversation gives me the chance to express my own admiration and appreciation to you and all those collaborating making your mission possible and offer my heartfelt encouragement to bring it to a safe and successful conclusion," the Pope said.
In a bit of ironic timing, the call came on the same day that a fringe Christian radio broadcaster made headlines for declaring the coming of The Rapture, the beginning of the end times as called for in Christian theology.