09 October 2014

Conversing with a Cardinal and a future collector's item

Last evening I had plans to join a few people from the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois for dinner. They are - or were (they left this morning) in Rome for a few days of pilgrimage, including our Vicar General.

As I set out from the Casa Santa Maria to meet them at the Pontifical North American College, I chose what is generally considered the more direct route to take, which generally also presumes it to be the fastest route to take (though I've had my doubts about this for a long time).

Making my way through the streets of Rome, I came upon three clerics taking their time as they talked and walked. Two were dressed in black clerics (as we call them) and one wore the habit of the Capuchin Franciscans. I knew this third to be His Eminence Sean Patrick Cardinal O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston.

Being something of a fast walker - and being a bit behind schedule already - I planned to simply walk past them and continue on my way. Such was my intention when one of the two priests looked at me and asked, "Don't you live at the Casa?" (How he knew that, I do not know.) With that question, my hopes of anonymously walking by were over.

The two priests first introduced themselves to me and then introduced me to Cardinal O'Malley, whom I had met before, and continued walking a few feet of the Cardinal and me. I wanted to politely excuse myself and continue on my way, but there seemed no polite way to do so since the other two were now walking about twenty feet ahead of us. Such is part of life in Rome.

When we arrived at the colonnade of Saint Peter's Square, we caught up with the two priests who said the three of them were going to the Domus Santa Marta. I took to the opportunity to mention I was heading to the NAC and said I would part ways with them when we arrived at the Swiss Guard.

Inside the colonnade, I noticed we were being followed by a young man - probably in his late twenties or early thirties - who seemed to be gaining on us. He called out to Cardinal O'Malley - in English - who stopped to talk with him.

The German was carrying a series of photographs from the conclave that elected Pope Francis for the purpose of collecting the signatures of the participants in that conclave (he had already collected quite a few of them). We talked briefly with the man and, after Cardinal O'Malley signed the various pictures and took a 'selfie' with him (I can't stand selfies), continued on our way.

We laughed about the pictures as we talked a bit and remarked at what a clever idea it was, and noted our surprise at how successful he had been at collecting the signatures thus far; it will certainly be a collector's item one day.

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