It has been a dream of my husband’s to see the Pope. Not having been raised Catholic, I wasn’t really sure how I would feel when this event became a reality. It was truly a memory that will remain with me the rest of my life.
The crowd was so vast that it filled every nook and cranny of St. Peter’s Square and spilled into the streets going beyond where the eye could see. We waited for hours and yet the time seemed to go by quickly. We were surrounded by persons from an assortment of nations speaking various languages. Those in front and behind us spoke Italian. Love transcended our language barriers. A smile, simple gestures and sharing of food needed no translation.
As the time of the Pope’s arrival drew closer, cheers from the crowd grew to a roar. Excitement filled the air and swept us all away. Then, as those around us chanted, “Papa Francesco” or “Mia Papa,” the Pope appeared! Being short in stature, a friend helped me climb onto a chair to get a closer look. Then, I saw him – not more than a few feet away! His face reflected love, kindness, and peace. You could actually feel the warmth of his love… Jesus shined through his eyes!
The feelings of being immersed in God’s love brought tears to my eyes. As I climbed down from the chair, I looked into the eyes of an older Italian man. He, too, was wiping his tears. With his hand, the man motioned, touching his heart. I made the same gesture. Again, love knows no barrier.
When Pope Francis spoke, these thousands upon thousands of people stopped yelling and cheering. The entire audience grew still as night. The silence seemed as loud as the roaring crowd. It was Father’s Day in Rome. Pope Francis quoted the Bible, imploring us all to help our children to grow, “in wisdom, age, and grace” (Luke2:52). He invited us to rediscover our faith and to grow in charity.
This event has left an indelible mark in my life. As we grow older, may we live by example, become a reflection of Jesus’ love and rediscover faith, hope and the greatest of these… love.