These are the 77 graduates of the police academy in Argentina's Entre Ríos province. Almost 60 of them are new police officers. After finishing school, they traveled through Europe, and it has all culminated in a visit to Rome.
"The icing on the cake with His Holiness, Pope Francis, was that we brought a gift that was very unique and novel. We asked our Pope to bless something that we are going to bring back to the province of Entre Ríos. It's a small statue that represents all of those who died in the line of duty.”
That was their chief goal: to get the Pope to bless a statue that honors their friends who are no longer with us. They said that the Pope was surprised to see them and that he offered a very kind message.
"He gave us a very special blessing. He was very happy to meet us. Really it was a surprise for us to be there, a healthy and large group of Argentinians, noisy enough. And he said that he hoped that we would pray for him. And of course, because are wearing the uniform, he told us to not make a big mess.”
Being so close to the Pope and receiving his blessing left them with an unforgettable memory as they head home.
"Regarding the figure of Pope, he makes an impact and moves you. He left us happy and content and in a state that was very difficult to explain in terms of emotions. He called up all the feelings that a human can handle.”
They return to Argentina full of joy and with a few religious objects. And they also have a mission: They agreed to the Pope's request that they pray for him.