A Year 3 student at St Mary’s Memorial School in Glenelg, Sienna was in Hungary with her parents when the family realised that Pope Francis would be visiting on the weekend of April 28-30.
Sienna’s dad, Wayne, was attending a conference in Budapest and had been warned by the convenors that there could be delays at the airport due to the Pope’s arrival.
Her mum, Rebecca, looked up the Pope’s itinerary and discovered he would be visiting St Stephen’s Basilica in the heart of Budapest on April 28.
She and Rebecca checked out the site as it was being prepared for the papal visit and returned the next day, hoping to get a glimpse of the Pope.
The family arrived early and grabbed a table outside a nearby café.
“There were barriers everywhere,” Sienna informed her classmates on her return to school.
“As he started speaking a security guard opened the gate to the VIP area. We jumped up and rushed through.
“I couldn’t believe it, we were right at the front.”
The Pope, who was in a wheelchair, came in Sienna’s direction, surrounded by guards.
“I was so nervous,” she said.
“He got closer and closer until he was right in front of us. I reached out and actually touched his hand.”
Sienna prepared a PowerPoint presentation with photos and a video she took on her mobile phone to share with her class.
At the end of the slideshow she wrote: “That was a day I’ll never forget.”
Rebecca said she couldn’t believe they were able to get so close.
“I was crying,” she said. “I’m not Catholic but it was just so special, totally unbelievable.”
She and Wayne had seen the Pope at a service in Vatican City about 10 years ago but she said it didn’t compare to their latest experience.
“To see him pass us smiling and Sienna saying ‘hi, hi, hi’, it was just amazing, we were so lucky.”
During his three-day trip to Hungary, Pope Francis addressed political leaders, representatives of the Church and cultural groups.
He also spent time at an institute for blind children and children with other special needs, and listened to the testimonies of the disadvantaged and refugees.Jump to next article