Two weeks later, about 100 students and professors' families boarded 3 buses and headed 10+ hours south to Rome. Grace and I had been to Rome earlier in the semester, which I am forever grateful for, because while everyone else was freaking out over "being in Rome", I was like, "POPE BENEDICT AAAHHHHH" and was (slightly less) distracted by everything outside of the Square.
We arrived at 6 am, and waited in line outside the gates for over an hour, where we met some seminarians from the States and prayed morning prayer with them. And then, we got separated.
Moments later, Pope Benedict rode by, within an arms' length of where I was standing. First, he stopped and blessed the baby, and then he turned to our side. He looked at us for a long moment, as literally all of us called to him, reached out, and loved him. He met our eyes with his, and smiling, he gave us a blessing and continued on.
At 8:00 pm exactly, a single bell began ringing. It rang through the darkness and made the whole city stop, it seemed. We stood, not knowing what to do, and finally, someone begin singing the Salve. The small groups scattered around the square joined in, and after it ended, there was silence again. I remember not knowing what to do. We had no pope. We were (temporarily) leader-less. It was a feeling of loss and sadness and yet incredible Hope and Trust.
My second trip to Rome was powerful, difficult, and rewarding. I honestly don't think I'l ever forget the feeling of standing with so many people, all for the same reason; or singing praise and worship at the North American College seminary; or praying in the language of the Church, led by the Holy Father himself. It taught me the universality of our Faith.