Papal Visit – Papal Nuncio’s House
Roan started Our Lady Immaculate School in September and had been very interested in the Pope’s visit and had lots of questions. He came to the conclusion that the Pope was Father Anthony’s boss!! I had been very lucky to see the last Pope and so decided to get up early on the Sunday morning and drive down the A3 to see if I could give Roan the same experience.
We arrived at 7am, picked our spot and began standing with many others hoping to get a glimpse of the Pope. I was struck by the amount of security surrounding the Pope – we were standing behind a barrier on the other side of the road and there were loads of police carrying machine guns.
During the last papal visit, I had stood as an 11 year old with my mum and my sister waiting for the Pope on a very warm Saturday evening. My dad had suffered a heart attack the week before and was in hospital and I remember seeing the Pope come out and greet the crowds on the balcony as real highlight during what was a very worrying time. At that time, there was very little security and we had managed to stand just outside the gates. The pictures I took that day were very blurred but they were put in a scrapbook which was entered into a school competition about the Pope’s visit and I won 2nd prize!
The crowd on the Sunday morning were excited to see the Pope and everyone was chatting about how well the visit had gone so far. Roan managed to use his 5 year old charm on some Filipino ladies at the front of the crowd who had ushered him and I to the front to get a better view. I had noticed that Roan had not eaten his banana and he told me that he waiting to give it to the Pope!!
Everyone expected the Pope to get into his car to be driven to Wimbledon Park where he was boarding a helicopter for his visit to Birmingham and so were hoping for a very brief glimpse. You can imagine our delight when at just after 8am, the Holy Father appeared and walked out of the Papal Nuncio, up the drive and into the street where he greeted the crowds. It was an amazing privilege to see the Pope so close and the atmosphere was so respectful.
As the crowd dispersed, everyone was looking at each other and smiling – it was a rare moment when everyone came together. Roan couldn’t wait to tell his nana and grandparents in New Zealand about all that he had seen. I was so proud to be able for him to see the Pope so close and give him the magical experience that I had nearly 30 years earlier!!