My friend Mark from back home was in Rome this week! He goes to Franciscan University and is studying abroad in Austria this semester. His program made a trip to Rome and I got to meet up with him on Thursday.
We met in St Peter's Square a little before 5pm, when the Pope was leaving the Vatican. I actually hadn't planned on being there for it, but I'm so glad I was.
There are massive TV screens set up in the corners of St. Peter's Square, and at 4:30pm they started broadcasting a live feed of the Pope leaving the Vatican. A huge crowd gathered in the square, and we all watched as the cardinals bid him an emotional goodbye, with those that worked closest with him visibly upset and teary-eyed. As I saw this, I looked around the square and saw that there were many teary eyes around me. In particular, as the Pope got on his helicopter, one priest behind me was just overcome, with tears streaming down his face. I think it wasn't until that day that I truly realized what this meant. That Pope Benedict was really leaving. As his helicopter left the ground, we all clapped in the square, and erupted into thunderous applause as we saw the helicopter ascend over the square. It took a turn away, but the Pope's helicopter then made one final pass over the faithful assembled in St. Peter's Square.
As I saw him leaving the Vatican for the last time as Pope, I felt a true sadness. Pope Benedict was a great Pope, and I was sad to see him go.
“Each of us is willed,
each of us is loved,
each of us is necessary.”-Pope Benedict XVI
“The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”