To be near Pope Francis during the General Audience, immersed amongst the thousands joyful pilgrims, is electrifying. But to experience that in the popemobile, standing next to the Holy Father, is nothing short of extraordinary. Simone, Stella, Marta, and Matilda recount their spectacular morning.
"It was beautiful! A man took and carried me onto the popemobile, where I met the pope and he hugged me. Then the whole time the pope drove through St. Peter’s, with another bishop behind the popemobile that he has. Afterwards, I greeted the pope!”
"For me it was incredible... just amazing... because to see this man, the pope, in his car... it's really amazing. I couldn't believe it. I wanted to faint! It was marvelous! Then I was able to also get the autograph of the pope. It was really the top of the top!”
Here, Simone and his other classmate Marta, proudly show their autographs from Pope Francis. For Marta, all it took was a split second to turn potential disappoint into a dream come true.
"For me it was a fantastic feeling, because I was in the second row and I thought, I did not even touch the pope! Then, instead, a man took me and I said, ´oh my goodness!', but I am dreaming, this isn't really true. Except then, I realized that it really is true, this isn't a dream!”
These students, along with their teachers, were part of a much larger group from Milan that took this pilgrimage to St. Peter’s Basilica.
"It’s a pilgrimage that we make to Rome because we want to see the pope… and we want to go to the tomb of Peter to hug the pope. This year, we have true grace, that four of our children hugged the pope, literally, because they rode the popemobile with the pope. They were with him and he hugged and spoke with all of them.”
For these four little children, it was not only a day to remember, but one to inspire them to come back.
"For me it was fantastic and I started to cry from happiness. I hope to see him also another time, because I said I really want to know him, and finally it happened.”
That is exactly what's so special about these encounters with Pope Francis: both the young, and the old, experience moments that change their life.