Meeting the Pope

I was somehow invited to meet the Pope during his visit to the DRC.

It was a bewildering and probably once in a lifetime experience.

I am grateful to my mother who made it happen and also to the apostolic mission to the DRC who invited us, especially His Excellency the Nuncio and archbishop Ettore Balestrero.

Essentially, we showed up at 5am at the Sacré Cœur church in Gombe along with many other people who got invited.

Many were firm believers who felt extremely lucky to be there.

After an hour or two waiting with my mother and friends, we were asked to quickly walk into the Pope’s residence in the main hall of the building. There were chairs that were arranged around a main seat that we imagined would be his.

After a few minutes, he appeared and sat at his chair surrounded by Italian body guards.

After his arrival, a sort of queue formed around him with some chaos as we were rushed to quickly greet him. Some pushed their way through while others waited patiently.

A lot of the guests tried to kiss his hand or kneel but he refused these gestures. Eventually my turn came. I was a bit at a loss of words and just blurted out « Gracie mille » or « gracias para todo ». I can’t remember. He stared at me and I stared back. We shook hands. And I moved on.

The next person was waiting behind me.

I was quickly given a little red box with a medal commemorating his trip to the DRC.

All in all, it was interesting and unique. I am not sure if I felt some sort of spiritual connection as it was incredibly short. I saw a man that had dedicated his life to God and his beliefs. He was the head of the Catholic Church and therefore of all catholics, practicing or not.

His impact is massive and it is quite incredible that I was able to meet him in person albeit for a split second. I’m sure many would have loved to be in my shoes and probably deserved my spot more than me.

Here are a few pictures of the encounter.

If you ever meet the Pope here are some good tips :

My tips are: prepare what you will say to him, think of what you want him to pray for, smile, greet his whole team, relax, forget about your phone and pictures and live the moment 110%



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