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April 23: All roads
lead to Rome
— busy beyond

April 24: All roads
lead to Rome
— Il Papa viene

April 25: All roads
lead to Rome
— everybody's here

April 26: All roads
lead to Rome
— a Costarrican celebration

April 27: All roads
lead to Rome
— rejoicing with the saints!


Crowds gather in front of St. Ignatius in Rome as Pope Francis arrives.
Father Mauricio Granados/Courtesy photo

Rev. Alexander Q. Castillo

April 24, 2014
All roads lead to Rome
— Il Papa viene

Saint Peter’s is full — at least a couple of hours in line to get in. So my friend Father Mauricio Granados and I decided to go to other places today (April 24): Santa Maria della Vittoria, to see — and pray in front of the famous statue of the Ecstasy of St. Theresa; the Church of the Holy Trinity of the Mounts (in front of the famous Piazza Spagna), the Pantheon, Santa Maria Soppra Minerva (to visit the tomb of St. Catherine of Siena); etc.

In our way, passing by the colossal Church of St. Ignatius, a multitude is waiting. Il Papa viene (the Pope is coming), I heard. What? Are you kidding? I could not believe it. Less than 24 hours in Rome and I was about to have my first chance to see Pope Francis! We wait an hour and fifteen minutes, but it was worth every second.

In front of me, an Italian family — parents and their three little children, are waiting with a contagious excitement. At my right hand, a Filipino family ... and behind, a Mexican woman talking with an Italian woman… another beautiful taste of the universality of our Church.

And finally, he arrived. We saw him briefly. Smiling peacefully and blessing us. The vicar of Christ, right there.

Father Mauricio was expecting me to start shouting: Francis! Francesco! Francisco! I could not. I was not even able to take a picture (thanks to Father Mauricio for taking care of the camera). It was one of those moments in your life you just want to record as clear as possible, both in your mind and heart: every movement, every gesture and his blessing.

I got my treasure today. I saw the first Jesuit pope for the first time in front of the Church of St. Ignatius in Rome. And I will carry that treasure with me ad maiorem Dei gloriam, for the greater glory of God (as the Jesuit motto states).

(Father Castillo is secretary of the bishop and episcopal master of ceremonies for the Diocese of Oakland. He is in Rome for the canonizations of the two popes.)

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