Is anyone else as fascinated as I am about all the ceremony and history of a papal funeral and the subsequent conclave to elect the next pope? The last time this happened I was 9 years old and didn’t pay one ounce of attention. But today, I’m riveted.
Then again, I’m the crazy person that stayed up until 3am to watch Princess Diana’s funeral live, as it occurred. And the one who wrote to Queen Noor upon the passing of her husband, the late King Hussein of Jordan. And let’s not forget our botched attempt to go see Ronald Reagan’s casket in the middle of the night last year.
Pope John Paul II, on the day we crossed paths. (09/87)
Like him or not, Pope John Paul is an iconic figure from my early adulthood. I certainly have no recollection of any pope prior to him. I even went to see his motorcade when he toured San Francisco in September 1987.
I had just started college at San Francisco State a month earlier. I remember staking my spot on the motorcade route a couple of hours early, and watching all the security procedures going on.
A few hours later, the street was packed. Then, we began to hear the motorcade coming in the distance. By this point, the hundreds of cops were in position and lined along both sides of the street.
The motorcade started off with motorcycle policemen. There must have been 25 of them at least.
Then came the squad cars, all blinking their strobe lights. There were probably 30 of those.
Then there were a few dozen other vehicles, which must have been carrying the dignitaries, both local and visiting. There were white cars, black sedans and pick-up trucks carrying dozens of cameramen and photographers.
The Pope's driver had a heavy foot that day. (09/87)
Next thing I knew, there was the Pope … whizzing by in his Popemobile. In fact, were it not for the fact that he was wearing white, I might not have even noticed him in the midst of all that activity. It didn’t help matters that the driver was probably driving at least 25 miles per hour. It literally lasted less than five seconds. Ah, well.
Although it was a long day, at least it was memorable. And I can always say I saw the Pope with my own eyes.
The fastest Pope on four wheels. (09/87)
Adieu Pope John Paul II!