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Rome Reports

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Spanish high school students receive blessing of lifetime on Ash Wednesday

“Francis, the first, the whole world loves you.”

Before they had attended Mass on Ash Wednesday, these Spanish high school students had already received a special blessing. As the date coincided with Valentine's Day, their gift came in the form of seeing Pope Francis in the flesh before the General Audience. 

“When the pope drove by, it was very exciting because we thought we were going to see him from afar, but we were able to see him up-close. So, it was very cool. Even though it was cold and rainy, it's worth it.”

“Coming here was enough... I've seen the Audience on TV, but I didn't imagine its immensity and significance. When I entered and saw the pope, I saw him on those screens and said, 'Alright, he's not going to pass by here.' Later, he went by a few feet away from me and it's like... that made my day.”

Although much history and culture remains to be seen on their trip, the teens from Colegio Santo Ángel de la Guarda in Albacete would've been more than content with the Holy Father's blessing. While the gesture certainly wasn't in the itinerary, teachers who planned the visit were willing to do anything to bring their students to St. Peter's Square on a day with extra significance.

“We thought of coming to Rome and said, 'Well, it's Ash Wednesday, we have to do whatever we can to go to the General Audience.' It took a lot because we had to request tickets by fax – faxes are almost extinct – but in the end, we did it and we're very happy.”

Their determination paid off, prompting infectious smiles and chants that will surely continue throughout the first day of Lent.