WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) — A jubilant crowd greeted Pope Francis at his temporary home in Washington, D.C. Tuesday.
Hundreds gathered outside the Apostolic Nunciature, where the pope will be staying while in the nation’s capital. They were singing, dancing and in high spirits well before his 5p.m. arrival.
Marianella Guandique traveled from San Francisco for “a picture of the pope” and just the chance to say hello. “[It’s] joy because the presence of Jesus is here,” she added.
Mandy Burke was hoping for a blessing for her infant daughter.
“I hope Maddy will get a blessing from Pope Francis. I think that would just be such a special moment. She’s just a tiny little three-month-old so to get a blessing from the Pope would mean great things for her life,” Burke told D.C. Correspondent Chance Seales.
Others were just enjoying the moment.
“I have no words. The most amazing time for me,” Emmanuel Ahousso said. “I didn’t know I’d be able to see the pope one day, so I’m extremely happy.”
The pope’s official visits begin Wednesday morning at the White House with President Obama. Some 15,000 people have been invited to attend a morning ceremony on the South Lawn.
There’s also a pope-mobile parade by the National Mall scheduled and prayers with several hundred bishops at St. Matthew’s Cathedral. About 30,000 people are expected at a late afternoon mass with Francis at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
On Thursday, the pope is addressing Congress and visiting with Catholic charities before he leaves for New York and Philadelphia.
Pope Francis is scheduled to fly back to Rome Sunday.