A pilgrimage to Rome is always a special occasion for Catholics, but there are certain details that can make it unforgettable.
"I cordially greet pilgrims from San Fernando and Ubrique, Cadiz; from Elche de la Sierra Albacete, and from Parla, Madrid.”
For these 40 pilgrims from the city Parla, near Madrid, the Pope's greeting during the Sunday Angelus was the greatest gift they took back to their town.
"When he said 'Parla,' I was completely excited.”
"It was an emotional moment because the Pope is someone very important to us, and for him to mention 'Parla,' which is not very well-known, is unusual.”
"It's surprising because there were so many people, and among them all, he named us.”
The parish priest planned for months the pilgrimage to Rome. He asked the Pontifical Household for the chance to celebrate Mass with the Pope for the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. It didn't happen, but he received a surprise that day.
Parish priest, St. Francis de Sales (Spain)
"They told me that it was not possible, but instead they told me we could go to the Angelus, and that we didn't need to make a reservation. With that, our visit was recorded at the Prefecture and that was that. Then the other day, I wasn't expecting it and the Pope mentioned that we were there.”
So right there, at St. Peter's Square, euphoria erupted when Pope Francis unexpectedly mentioned the group.
"We got goosebumps, clearly! When he started talking and naming all these places, you naturally want him to name your town, and since we didn't know he would, we were so excited. The hairs on the back of our neck were sticking out. It was beautiful.”
"My heart skipped a beat, and the people were going wild. 'We're from Parla,' we started screaming.”
Visiting Rome in just four days is a great challenge. And even though they didn't see everything, they returned home very happy. Neither the heat, nor their fatigue wiped away the smile off their faces. Much less, after the Pope's greeting. They're happiness was contagious, and they made sure to show it.