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Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Pope story

Everyone's got one...

On the Thursday when the Holy Father arrived in Köln, Juventutem had had a votive Mass of the translation of the relics of the Magi in Maria Hilf Kirche in Köln, some classic Juventutem aimless wandering about at lunchtime, and vespers (confusingly at two o'clock). This was followed by much ambling about in an attempt to find a good spot from which to watch the Pope, chant 'Be-ne-DET-to,' jump up and down over-excitedly, etc etc. Predictably the group got somewhat split up. A largish segment of it ended up near where the Pope was due to land on the bank of the Rhine, waiting to get through a security tent and stand nearer his path. The queue was moving so slowly that most Juventutem Anglophones were about to find a pub with a decent television instead, when the call went up that they were letting women through first, so I joined the fray. After being thoroughly searched (the policewoman looking pretty unimpressed with my lunch and the amount of junk in my bag), I found myself a few metres away from the path the Pope was meant to walk up; but there were only about five Juventutem people who hung about for long enough to stand there. Boats kept going up and down the Rhine, to our increasing excitement; something involving Cardinal Lehmann was being piped through speakers. Eventually, eventually Benedict's own voice was heard. The five-language speech he gave was predictably humbling, pointing out to us, in its emphasis on the journey towards Christ, that Our Lord, not His vicar, was the one to get excited about. (Much shushing among the crowd as certain language groups chattered during the sections they didn't understand.) Eventually, eventually the Pope's boat passed on the Rhine, and a white figure holding up his arms could just be seen through the riverside trees. Everything notwithstanding, we applauded... Eventually, eventually, eventually the boat returned and he landed, and walked up towards the Dom, surrounded by his fortunate companions. But the press of the crowd was so great, and the height of Benedict so... not great... that even from our relatively close vantage point,all I saw was the little white hat bobbing up the path... Until he got further uphill, and turned round to wave at the crowd. And that was that.

I didn't say it was a very exciting pope story... Still, there he was. Ipse est Petrus.

Cardinal Meisner on Benedict XVI: 'He has the intelligence of twelve professors and is a pious as a child on the day of his first Communion.' (According to a review of a clutch of books about Benedict in last week's Catholic Herald.)

In lieu of more picturesque genuine memories, I have the delightful Benedykt: nasz nowy papiez (even my Polish can stretch to that), a book full of Pope pictures (and Polish text I can't understand) obtained for a mere £2.50-ish, and produced by a paper called Fakt. Berenike informs me that this is the equivalent of The Sun Big Book of the Pope. Well, if the Sun were to produce books about the Pope, I might be more kindly inclined towards it...