I don't know if the visit of Pope Benedict XVI has been big news in the rest of the country. Living in Washington we are always surprised at what seems like a big deal to us and is barely on the radar of friends and family outside the Beltway. But even if your local news isn't running 24-7 papal visit coverage this is, really, a big deal. The last time a pope came to Washington was in 1978, I think. I tried to look that up but I don't have time for lots of googling right now. John Paul II came to the US five times in 26 years, anyway. This was Benedict's first visit and most of you probably know that after spending a few days with us here he left for New York this morning.
Our family really had good luck in the ticket department. Every diocese in the US got tickets to one of the stadium masses and our parish had 65 that went into a random drawing. We only won one but, somehow, they found three more for us. The Mass was a long morning: we left at 6:30 for a 10:00 Mass that lasted two hours. But it was a great time. The kids did really well. The new Nationals Stadium here in Washington is very nice--it's only been in use for a few weeks--and we had fantastic seats so we were able to people watch down on the field. We saw the priest who baptized Margaret briefly (he lives in southern Virginia) and an old friend from the National Shrine who had the job of master of ceremonies for the Mass. Joseph loved seeing the procession of bishops all in red. Most of all it was wonderful to see the Holy Father in person and attend Mass with him. Here are a few pictures of his arrival in the stadium and the general set-up of the Mass:
We were also offered, at the last minute, tickets to get onto the CUA campus to view the Popemobile ride between two different talks Benedict was giving. We were pretty tired after being out all morning and getting lunch and getting home but we wanted to try to get a closer view of Benedict and we knew that the campus atmosphere would be very festive and fun and we wanted to be there with our friends. It was a pretty good party and our closest friends were all there. Lots of kids were running around and Joseph and Margaret got to play outside. We were all gathered on the lawn outside the National Shrine and many had brought guitars and drums. Benedict came by and Joseph got a great view from atop Daddy's shoulders. My view was a bit obstructed but we still saw him pretty close and had a great time visiting with everyone. I was holding Margaret in a crowd so I couldn't also get a picture of that sighting. But Margaret had a great time playing with our friend Emily.