When my boys asked why I get so moved, I shared with them some pope stories ...
- When we were living in Italy, one morning all the church bells in the city began ringing simultaneously, and considering that in Italy there is a church on almost every street corner, that was a lot of bells. The sound was both beautiful and haunting, but we soon learned that the bells were signaling the death of Pope John Paul I. I'll never forget the sound of all those church bells, and the shock that our newly elected Pope was gone.
- Before leaving Italy to return to live in the U.S., my Nonna took my mom, my sister, and me on a trip to Rome. On that trip I saw the Sistine Chapel for the first time, and we also attended a general audience in St. Peter's Square with Pope John Paul II. The moment he appeared the heat, the crowds, and my disgruntled teen moodiness evaporated in the pure joy of the moment. Pure joy . . . there is no other way to put it.
- When I returned to Rome last May, I was able to see the exact spot in St. Peter's Square where John Paul II was shot in 1981. I also visited his tomb, which was as humble and simple as the man himself.
The exact place in St. Peter's Square where John Paul II was shot.
- On that same trip, we visited St. Peter's Square late, late at night. There was complete and total silence . . . and the lights from Pope Benedict's apartments were still on. Standing there in the empty square, we felt a prevailing sense of peace. Our seminarian friend, who had given my friend and me a personal tour of the Basilica earlier that day, mentioned that sometimes when the weather is clear you can actually hear the Pope playing the piano late at night. I didn't hear any music that night, but I had no problem imagining it.
Do you have any Pope stories to share? Hold on a second while I run and grab a box of tissues.