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Keeping up with Altmans: A Papal Visit

November 17, 2017 5:00 PM

Elissa at Pope Francis Mass

Junior Elissa Todd, who is spending her Fall semester abroad in Colombia, wrote to us about Pope Francis' recent visit to Bogotá. She went through great lengths to witness his visit, including biking for over an hour to see the Pope deliver mass to over a million people. She says,

"Hola a todos desde Colombia! Living in Bogotá for the past two months has been an experience unlike anything I could have expected before arriving, and two weeks ago, I was fortunate to have an experience here that I will remember for the rest of my life. On September 7, Pope Francis arrived in Colombia for the first papal visit to the country in over thirty years. As any of my friends know, my Catholic faith is an integral part of who I am and something that I hold very dear to my heart, relying on it in good and bad times, particularly in such an unfamiliar place as Bogotá. When I learned that Papa Francisco was coming to Bogotá, I knew that I had to find a way to see him.

On the day of his arrival, a small group of my friends and I - including fellow Altman Dalton! - walked through the closed off streets to wait where a crowd had gathered. Dalton even held me on his shoulders so I could get a better view as el Papa drove past! After watching him drive by (and snapping a selfie), two other friends joined me in renting bicycles and trekking through the empty streets and drizzling rain to the park where the Pope was coming to deliver mass. We waited in the park as over a million people trickled in and waited, listening to beautiful music, prayers, and speeches calling for peace and love among the people of Colombia.

Although neither of my two friends who joined me were religious, the energy in the park was impossible to ignore. All of us were moved by the beautiful music that the Bogotá Philharmonic Orchestra played throughout the mass, the prayers that el Papa spoke over the crowd, and the emotion that filled every participant. This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience - to receive and witness mass from a Latin American Pope in Colombia at such a poignant time in the country's history. And more personally, it was the revitalization of faith and energy that I needed during this semester abroad, as I have found myself missing my friends and family far more than I thought I would before arrival."

Elissa's selfie with the Popemobile