The Papal visit was probably as crowded as the opening mass of WYD. I think more youth turned up to this event because they all came to see one thing: The Pope!!
The Papal welcome Ceremony occurred at Cibeles Square. The Pope rode around the streets in his Popemobile.
The event started at 7.30pm but from what we have learnt from the hectic wait at the Opening Mass, we managed to come earlier where we can get a good view.
We managed to be at the corner of the square near the park. I was with the Samoan boys from New Zealand Doug Mitchell, Ikenasio Tuiatua and Joe Moeono Kolio. We were carrying our New Zealand flags with pride, we also had the All Blacks flag to make sure that everyone knew we were from New Zealand.
We stood at the front for almost 4 hours in the hot sun of 38 – 40 degree heat. Everyone was sweaty but we were lucky to get water refills from the volunteers. Also, some volunteers would spray water at us to keep us cool. We used our flags as shade from the sun.
The wait was intense and all I remember were people squashing me from all sides. It was disgusting but I had to remind myself that this is part of the pilgrimage.
The Pope arrived but we couldn’t see him clearly because the people in front of us were blocking our view. The people in front of us had their cameras, and flags waving in the air from every direction. I saw a glimpse of the Holy Father 100m away and that was it.
Some of the crew that I know complained saying “we waited 4 hours to see the Pope and we only get to see him for a 10 seconds.” Some disagreed saying it was worth it.
Witnessing these pilgrims who were eager to see the Pope made me realise how lucky I am to have lunch with him.
This is another moment of preparation to meet the Holy Father.