Face To Face With Pope Francis

Face To Face With Pope Francis

Yeb Saño and pilgrims of The People's Pilgrimage receives blessings from Pope Francis to start their 1500km journey to Paris ahead of COP21.

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Thursday 01 October 2015 at 15:57
Face To Face With Pope Francis

by Yeb Saño, OurVoices Spiritual Ambassador & Leader of The People's Pilgrimage for Climate Action

Yesterday was a truly beautiful day. Our small band of pilgrims set out from Pontificio Collegio Filippino, which had been our home in Rome for a couple of days, to St. Peter's Square, where our historic sendoff would take place. Yesterday marked the start of our 1500km multi-faith journey to Paris for climate action. It was to be a momentous day.

The sun bathed St. Peter's Square with warmth, and as thousands of pilgrims flocked towards the square, we found our way to the very front, near the altar and the facade of the Basilica towering over us.

And then the crowd erupted into cheer.

Pope Francis had arrived. On this day, he blessed thousands of pilgrims gathered here. All of these pilgrims came from different countries and as they say in the pilgrim's adage, all roads lead to Rome. Our group was both — we all traveled to Rome to convene for the People's Pilgrimage, but it was just the start of our journey.

A voice announced the names of the groups that were in attendance, and among the dozens of groups was The People's Pilgrimage.

And then the moment came.

Together with my fellow climate pilgrims, I was face to face with Pope Francis.

The sun made his face glow and his smile was just so magical, imbued with deep sincerity and love. In the midst of the jostling around him, I presented to him a replica of his Encyclical, Laudato Si', written in my own handwriting. He smiled and looked at it intently. Then he held my hand. His left hand held my right hand. His grip was firm and as he held my hand for a full minute — I was speechless.

I was going to tell him so many things about thanking him for his courage and leadership on the climate issue and that our group of pilgrims would be carrying the encylcical to Paris. But no words came out of my mouth. Instead, I reciprocated his grip on my hand and tears welled in my eyes.

I had received his blessings, and this inspiration will carry us from Rome to Paris annd for our whole lives.

Photo Credit: Chris Warde-Jones for The Guardian

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