In January, we cut Rome out of our trip at the last minute when we found out that Pope Francis was in Chile and there would be no Papal audience that Wednesday. We decided that we could fly to Rome just for a Wednesday to see him since w had already seen all that we wanted to see of Rome in previous trips (when Pope Francis never was in town.) It was the best decision ever!
Wednesday morning we got up early and bundled up, remember it had snowed and was unseasonably cold for Rome. The general audience was held inside which was the key because if it is outside he stays in his Pope Mobile and you get to see him, but not too close. We stood in line and saw so many people, nuns, brides in their wedding dress dancing around to keep warm, etc. We started to feel like this wasn't going to happen when they divided our half of the line and insisted in Italian that we go to another entrance. After finally getting through security, Genevieve took a few steps and face planted into the ground. The cobblestones tripped her up. Thankfully, despite how it looked, she was okay with only a few bruises on her knees. Luckily, she distributed her weight well this time and didn't break her arm again. We pulled her up and I helped her walk so we could get inside the Paul IV building. We met up with godfather Brian after a few interesting "chats" with some of the Swiss Guard trying to get around to where he was standing and saving us a spot. He carefully inserted children and then switched with Brian so we could get a chance at shaking his hand.
|Swiss Guard in the Background...|
|Anxiously Awaiting the Pope!|
Brian offered for me to switch with him and hold Bobby on the front row, but I was afraid I wouldn't be able to withstand the Italian way of pushing and holding the spot. At first Judah and Drew were in the corner and about 30 minutes into our wait, five minutes before Pope Francis came in, Drew started getting claustrophobic and started pushing which caused Judah to bump his head and start crying. I decided it was best to switch Isaac and him so I could hold him up. He was too short to see over the barrier anyway.
This is where it gets good. Pope Francis came in and went straight to a mother holding a baby and then he turned and saw Bobby. He was smiling the most genuine, sweet smile as he made a bee-line over to Bobby. After touching his cheeks he blessed each of the kids and then came back to stand in front of Bobby. He was just smiling and Bobby was babbling away saying who knows what and then he reached out to touch his crucifix. Pope Francis just stood there, letting him touch his crucifix for what seemed like eternity, but was really only seconds.
I had decided to not take pictures and just be present in the moment before hand and so I didn't even have my phone out. When we saw Pope Benedict XVI back in 2010 and he blessed the oldest three children Brian took a picture, but it only had the top of our heads. I figured something like that would happen again, so we were going to rely on the papal photographer. Great decision! They did such an excellent job. You can find the pictures on this website by following these instructions:
1. Click on "General Audience 2018"
2. Click on the February 28th date.
3. Click on Ingresso Aula Paola VI
4. Go to page 3 and scroll towards the bottom where our photos start. They continue on other pages.
It doesn't end here. It just gets more surreal. A particularly stunning photo of Bobby's hand touching his crucifix was posted on the Popes Instagram account and Catholic News Agency contacted Brian after godfather Brian reposted his Instargram photo, and then my husband was tagged and identified through this social media labyrinth. And they wrote up an article all about it, quoting Brian many times. Here is the link to that article which includes a video clip of "the Bobby" and the Pope.
After the papal blessing, they keep the doors locked and won't let people out until the Pope has left the building and it was quite a long wait for the children. They ate me out of all my snacks and were all starving. While we waited, I videotaped Bobby telling/asking about him what had just happened because someone did not even get the significance of this whole incredible event. But don't you worry! Those photos are getting ordered and blown up and and hung on our wall, and this boy is going to totally get it one day!
|Aaaaah! What a memorable day!|
|Some very hungry people!|
Then we made our way over and up to the NAC, the North American College for Seminarians. Godfather Brian had arranged for a tour for our family that ended in attending evening prayers with the seminarians.
Patrick, our guide, was so great with the kids, engaging them and quizzing them on religion and history. I was pleased that our children knew the answers and are actually learning things at home.
|Here he is showing them some historical sites from the top of the building, including Milvian bridge.|
|It's a little blurry, but everyone is looking, and no one looks too unhappy either.|
After evening prayers, we met up with an old friend and priest for dinner. It was a long, late dinner after a long, eventful day, but thankfully the children all behaved and we had a terrific visit.
|We walked 30 minutes to our apartment and passed St. Peter's. Drew wanted this picture, trying to hold it up. Pisa flashbacks, maybe.|
And that's a wrap. Ciao, Roma! Hopefully, this won't be our last time to see you, but it looks like it will be some time before we meet again.