The Encounter

My name is Lizanne. This is my account of what I experienced in Rome, Italy. Thursday, August 28th 1980, the pilgrimage group, which the Catholic Youth Council sent from Dublin, Ireland, arrived at Castel Gandolfo, the Summer residence of the Pope. It was to mark the end of a wonderful week in Rome. We entertained Pope John Paul II in his backyard. It was amazing. At the end of the evening the Pope patiently made his way around the garden to get his picture taken with each group of pilgrims. Lancelot was the name of the group that I was part of. We had a chair in our area which I suggested could be offered to the Pope to sit on ! All I had to do was hold onto one leg of the chair and then it happened !! Pope John Paul II approached our bus group and exclaimed “A chair” He then sat down for a few minutes and I told him that I shared the same Birthday May 18th. There was so much excitement in the air that I’m not sure if he really heard me. I remember putting my arm around him and touching the fascia which is the sash. I was totally captivated by his presence. Then when the photocall was over and he was leaving, he passed by us on his departure from the garden and then I just found myself striding towards him . His bodyguards stopped me but then Pope John Paul called me and embraced me. It was the greatest moment of my life. To experience this as a sixteen year old girl was such a privilege and the opportunity of a lifetime.

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