On Sept. 21, about 30 University of Dallas Romers remained on campus during the second long weekend to attend a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis at the Albano Laziale Cathedral of St. Pancras.
The purpose of Pope Francis’ visit was to celebrate the feast day of St. Matthew and commemorate the anniversary of the cathedral’s restoration.
Monsignor Thomas Fucinaro describes this papal mass as the “most intimate” public mass he has ever attended. The square was angled so that the students were able to clearly view the altar.
“We were able to have a perfect bird’s eye view, so to speak, of the altar and of the pope and all that was going on there on the altar,” Msgr. Fucinaro said. “It made it be quite intimate.”
The Mass was held outside without chairs, said Msgr. Fucinaro. He was particularly inspired by the attendees of Albano.
“There were these people selling these flags, for like a euro each, but at a certain point when the Mass began, people started saying ‘go away, the Mass has started.’”
Sophomore Emily Grant was impressed with the devotion of the believers present.
“There is something very powerful about a square full of people,” Grant said. “You could tell that that a lot were Catholic, but a lot weren’t and they just wanted to see the Pope.”
Similarly, Pope Francis’ spoke of such unity during the Mass.
“How wonderful it would be if our neighbors and acquaintances felt the Church is their home!” he said, according to an article published Sept. 21 by the Catholic News Agency (CNA).
Even the outdoor setting added to the experience of Mass with the Holy Father, according to Grant.
“I loved the Mass with him,” said Grant. “There was nowhere to kneel because we were so tightly packed. I was just standing there and he held the host aloft. I was struck by the experience of the successor of St. Peter, the head of the church, and in the least and most dramatic way possible, I was struck to my knees.”
Resident coordinator of the Rome campus and class of ’19 graduate Joseph Griesbauer was impressed with the opportunity to experience the sacrament with Pope Francis.
“I think it was a very unique experience,” said Griesbauer, “to have him in such close proximity to our campus, to have such a great representation of UD students there, and to be part of that community in the Albano Laziale, Castelli region of Rome, especially with such a particular celebration of Pope Francis.”