I’m lucky I also got to meet then-Pope Benedict XVI in Rome some years back. I remember becoming speechless and breathless the first time I saw him. All I managed to do was hyperventilate small prayers — in utter awe that right in front of me was the man I regularly prayed for in a special way, the visible head of the Church, our father on the journey towards heaven!
It was the same with Pope Francis.
Three hours after waiting for the Holy Father on Quirino Avenue (a few meters from the Taft Avenue intersection), finally the Pope’s convoy was on its way towards me. The crowd was already in a frenzy. The chant “Lolo Kiko, Lolo Kiko, te queremos mucho!” which had been taught to us half an hour ago, got lost into the deafening “Hooooo! Pope Franciiiissss!” Typical Pinoy cheer.
And then there he was. Like an apparition. Lights blue and red and white flashed before me: the police on motorcycles. Then more lights, in increasing intensity. And then there was Helios’ chariot carrying the sun: the Pope in his popemobile.
Mini-heart attack. Shutdown of the lungs. Then a Hail Mary that got lost into a shout — “Father!” — as the white celestial vehicle dissolved into the distance, into the Taft crowd that was once an avenue…
The Holy Father looked very happy. The aura he radiated was that of a grandfather saying, “Yes, my children, here I am. I’m very glad to finally see you all!”
And so, today I now have a clip I can watch when I need some spiritual boost. Here is the Successor of St Peter, or, as St Catherine of Siena would say with the tenderest of filial affection, the “sweet Christ on earth!”