On Pope Benedict’s last official day, I thought about a once-in-a-lifetime trip we took in 2009 and scurried into the archives to find some of my favorite images. A small group of 15 of us journeyed to Rome in October 2009. For many of us, it was our first trip to Rome. We were blessed to take our own personal guide, a young Plano Priest, only 2 years out of seminary and to our fortune, his seminary was the North American College in Rome. Needless to say, he still knew everybody and we had a back door pass to many areas in our 10 day trip. As good luck would have it, we were also in Rome at the same time as the canonization ceremony for five new saints.
Every Wednesday is a Papal Audience, which is an opportunity to “see” the Pope, and receive a Papal Blessing. Because it was only a few days later than the canonization ceremony, we knew there would be a TON of pilgrims waiting to get into St. Peter’s Square. Good fortune allowed us to be at the right place at the right time and the gate we were standing near opened first, before the gate that held back 1000’s of pilgrims. We RAN and were lucky enough to be in the 5th rows of seats, which allowed me to muscle my way to the front barrier for the pictures you see below.
The second picture was taken with a 17mm lens, which from a depth perception meant that I was able to simply reach my arm out and touch the shoulder of the security guard… The Pope was THAT close to us. As a photographer, I was certainly “in the moment” trying to capture some of these once-in-a-lifetime images, and the enormity of what had just happened didn’t really hit me until I sat back down for the Papal Audience ceremony. Emotion certainly took over for a few minutes that our dream of going visit Rome was realized, and unlike many, we got an up close view of Pope Benedict. It was certainly a very blessed trip and I hope you enjoy these few images.