Thursday was the day that Papa Ben (The Pope/B16/etc) arrived in Madrid. After catechesis, I went with most of the group to the welcome ceremony. We arrived around 2pm and got pretty close -- we had a good view of a screen and could even see the stage somewhat.
People that arrived after us:
There were pilgrims from ALL OVER the world.
We had to wait from 2pm until the Pope arrived at 7:30 so we saw a ton of strange/awesome things... for example
(sorry it's turned sideways, I couldn't figure out how to fix that)
It was terribly hot. I'm amazed that I managed not to get sunburned. That's only because I was reapplying sunscreen about every hour. Unfortunately, some people got really nasty as well. I went to the toilet with a couple of the other girls and we had a serious problem getting back to the group. Some other pilgrims wouldn't move a few feet (they had loads of room because they were sitting in a circle playing cards) to let us past and even when a girl fainted from the heat right behind us they didn't want to move. They did finally move so that the girl could get medical assistance and we were able to fight our way back to the group.
Over all, though the atmosphere was great. So many young adults so excited to see the Holy Father. Seriously, there has to be something to the papacy. Otherwise, there is no reason for 100's of thousands of youth to be gathered in the 40+C (well over 100F) heat to see one short, 84 year old man. There is no other reason for us to be chanting with one voice (as we did dozens of times throughout the week, both in the presence of the pope and anywhere else... opposite platforms of the metro, walking down the street, you name it) “¡Esta es la juventud del papa!” ("We are the youth of the pope!") He really is our spiritual father. Forget Dumbledore's Army... I'm in Benedict's Army. Which, ultimately, is Jesus' Army.
Finally, Papa Ben arrived! And we could see him!!
Five young adults representing the five continents presented welcome gifts to the Holy Father. I didn't catch a picture of him putting on the cowboy hat from the North American representative but I did get one of him wearing the flower garland from the Asian rep.
After the gifts, there was a short prayer service with a reading from the Bible and intercessions. Papa Ben greeted the pilgrims and gave a short message in each of the "official" WYD languages (Spanish, French, Italian, German, English, and Polish) eliciting massive cheers from each language group in turn.
After the prayer service, he rode back out of the square in the pope-mobile. We were kind of disappointed because there had been plenty of space right along the fence on the street where he came in but we chose to get closer to the stage rather than stand there. Oh well... we were still there.
We waited a little while for the crowds to start to clear (hah) a little bit and then headed out of the square to find some food. On the way, we passed two cardinals walking down the road. Now, one doesn't normally see two "Princes of the Church" ambling down a city street. I caught a picture and then some of the group decided we should talk to them.
American's are often very irritating in international settings. Not everyone and not always but there is enough truth in the stereotype for me to downplay my citizenship when abroad. Because of this, I was telling people at WYD that I live in Hungary. When we met the cardinals, the rest of the group said they were from Canada and I chimed in (as I had been doing up until that point but sort of stopped afterwards) that I was coming from Hungary.
One of the cardinals looked at me strangely and asked
I figured that he either hadn't heard or didn't know where I was talking about so I repeated "Budapest, Hungary."
No sooner had I said that then, in flawless Hungarian, he says
"Dicsértessék a Jézus Krisztus!" (Praised be Jesus Christ!)
Now, you have to understand that for Hungarian Catholics, that is the common greeting from a priest to the people. If you're Hungarian and Catholic it's about as well known as the Sign of the Cross. Basically, if you don't know it (and the proper response), you are either not Hungarian or not Catholic or neither. When I'm in Hungary, the response flies off the tip of my tongue as easy as pie. However.... I was NOT expecting this random cardinal to be Cardinal Erdő -- the archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest (my home diocese) and the only Hungarian cardinal. I knew that he had to be in Budapest on Saturday for St. Stephen's day so I figured he wasn't going to be at WYD. Apparently, I was wrong. My poor brain was so befuddled with the sudden switch from English/Spanish to Hungarian. I recognized the phrase to be Hungarian, I knew it was the standard greeting from a priest, and I knew that I knew the proper response. What I didn't manage was to come up with the response. Instead, I mumbled, "igen," (yes) looking quite bewildered, I'm sure. The cardinal frowned and, somewhat sharply, gave me the response "Mindörökké, ámen!" (Forever, amen!)
I can't blame him... the poor guy was probably thinking "who is this girl and why is she claiming to be Hungarian/Catholic?!" ... Sorry, Your Eminence, I promise I'm not that thick - just wasn't expecting the language switch.
After that excitement (read: embarrassment -- at least for me) we got dinner and then headed home after a LONG day in the sun.