Friday, 17 September 2010

One Of The Greatest Moments Of My Life...

I am so overwhelmed that I feel quite shaky. There might be one or two typos in this post as a result...

I had intended to wander over towards Millbank so I could cheer for the Holy Father as he went in to speak in Westminster Hall. However, as I left the Media Centre, I saw that the barricades were up and I'd have had to walk all the way around Parliament Square and then down Millbank, and, quite frankly, my knee just wasn't up to it. However, one of the policemen outside explained that the Holy Father was due to drive past Little Sanctuary (outside the Media Centre) on his way to Vespers at 6:15pm.

I looked at my watch. It wasn't quite 4pm. That meant standing outside for over 2 hours. I contemplated going back inside the Media Centre, but one glance at the building crowd convinced me to make the effort.

I figured that it might be a good idea to powder my nose if I had to stand outside in the cold wind for a couple of hours. As I headed back to the Centre, I was promptly pounced upon by Greg Clovis from EWTN. Would I be willing to be interviewed? Now, you know how much I hate having my photo taken. But this was to show support for the Holy Father, so I bit the bullet.

No sooner had I finished than I was accosted by Leutgeb. We went over to speak to some ladies who were singing the chorus to God save our Pope and Ave Maria, and then moved over to the barrier.

I managed to lean right up against the barrier, thanks to the kindness of some fellow pilgrims from New Malden who moved over a bit, as it made it easier with the crutches. This meant that I was in the best possible position... or, rather, the second-best possible position. I jokingly remarked that we really ought to find someone with a baby...

The crowd was remarkably good-natured as they waited. Gradually the numbers increased, and the sense of anticipation heightened. I had a good chat with one of the policemen who explained that this was very different from his normal "beat" - he was trained to level 2, which meant that he was used to dealing with football crowds and the handling of riot shields...

There was, he said, a very small (but vocal) group of protesters who had managed to get themselves a prime spot near the end of the barricades. It was interesting (but not surprising) to note that, when the press arrived in force to enter the Abbey, they seemed to focus exclusively on that end of the crowd. I shall look at that in more detail when I get home. However, they really were a minute section of the huge crowd.

A massive cheer went up when the popemobile was sighted coming around from the Palace of Westminster. Flags were waved madly, and then put down again as everyone reached for mobile phones and cameras. As I predicted, the Holy Father stopped to have a little baby passed to him - quite close, as it happens.

As the Holy Father approached me, he looked straight at me - I yelled out "We love you Holy Father!" as loud as I could, and I swear he was lip-reading, because he smiled at me and waved. Up came my camera, and I got a great photo, but he'd already moved past a little, so he wasn't looking at me any more. I don't care. The Holy Father smiled and waved at me, and it's a moment I shall treasure...

9 comments:

Dominic Mary said...

Lucky Girl . . . but no more than you fully deserve. :-)

Seraphic Spouse said...

Lucky you!

Kate said...

How absolutely wonderful for you!
What a privilege to be among such a huge crowd, see the Holy Father and realise that he also saw you...
I've been following the BBC coverage all day-it has been pretty good, I must say, but do you know, they put the abuse/contraception/homosexuality question to everyone they interviewed- I lost count of how many people in the crowd were asked for comments on those issues. The great thing was that hardly anyone took up the cudgels against the Church/Pope- I suppose the Beeb, in desperation,felt it had to approach those who came to protest and vilify the Pope, since the pilgrims wouldn't.

marniebcn said...

I should be so lucky when he comes to visit Barcelona! I'm putting my name in the hat to participate in the Liturgy at the Sagrada Familia, but I know my chances are slim to none. No matter, just being close enough to see him will do for me.

margaret said...

I am glad for you! As someone who loves traditional liturgy and cats I have always liked Benedict XVI on principal but I did not expect to become as 'taken' with him as I am after watching the events of today and yesterday.

Anita Moore said...

Wowzers! What a great thing to be so close to the Holy Father!

And to all the losers who came to protest and vilify this thoroughly lovable Pope, I say: pppphhhbhbhbhbhttt.

Enthusiastica said...

I had the same experience when we were in Rome for Corpus Christi last year. I thought 'Blow the camera' I want to have his image engraved in my minds eye, so I just looked....and boy was it worth it! My eye level was just at the right height as the car whizzed round the corner and we caught each others gaze, as I screamed with delight. I'll never forget it, the experience was far better than any photo.

However..... today I've just watched a recording of the pope's journey along Millbank and saw said baby being given back to it's mother and my hubby was right next to her. He's got a blurred photo of the pope looking directly at him, giving a blessing. What a result! Papa loves us and he's come to visit us, to give us a word of Love, hope and encouragement - what more could you want?

lms rep said...

Had you shouted in German to greet the Pope and express your love, would you have used the formal Sie or the familiar Dich?
I'm unsure as to which form would be correct.

Ginny said...

I have goose bumps!! Wow I am speechless. Incredible

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