Very few are people are lucky enough to see the sunrise along Via della Conciliazione- the street that leads to the Vatican. Rosemary saw it every single Wednesday for a year. She is a Chicago native. When she arrived to Rome, she made it a point to see the Pope at least once a week.
"Even though I've seen him 38 times, the 38th today was just as exciting. I get nervous and excited as if it was the first time. When you're with other people who are there for the first time, you get excited with them too, like I said, as if it was your first time seeing the Pope. And it's not just because it's Pope Francis. I have love for Pope Francis, of course, but for the papacy.”
She didn't just want to go to the audience. She actually wanted a front row seat. So, every Wednesday she woke up at 5:00 a.m to make it to St. Peter's Square by 6:00. The Swiss Guards called her a veteran, because she would always be giving advice to other pilgrims.
"I've been able to give more suggestions for where to stand, where to enter, where they can see the Pope for the longest amount of time. And just talk to people from different countries. I've had interesting conversations with people who are of the Catholic faith, who are Christian or not even Christian, people who are atheist. I've had many different interesting conversations.”
Throughout the year, she has seen and lived special moments, holidays and even birthdays in St. Peter's Square. For the Pope's big day, she made this poster with his soccer team's logo. And she made another one on her birthday, hoping the Pope would notice.
"I made a sign letting him know it was my birthday and so he tugged on his ear, which is a way of saying happy birthday in Argentina and also here in Italy.”
There were other more moving moments, like when the Pope blessed an Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. A gift her mother gave to her when she became ill. She only had seconds to make the request, but the Pope heard her.
'Father, will you bless it for me?' And he made the Sign of the Cross right in front.”
After being in Rome for a year, Rosemary is heading back to Chicago. But she plans on coming back to the Eternal City soon. When that happens she knows exactly what she wants to do: To give the Pope a papal hat when she attends her 39th general audience.