October 2, 2015

Pilgrims have encounters with pope, saints in Philadelphia

Julie and Doug Bauman, members of St. Barnabas Parish in Indianapolis and teachers at its school, tie strips of paper with prayer intentions onto netting on Sept. 22 below an image of Our Lady, Undoer of Knots at a makeshift shrine dedicated to her beside the Basilica Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. The Baumans participated in an archdiocesan pilgrimage to the World Meeting of Families held in Philadelphia from Sept. 22-25. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Julie and Doug Bauman, members of St. Barnabas Parish in Indianapolis and teachers at its school, tie strips of paper with prayer intentions onto netting on Sept. 22 below an image of Our Lady, Undoer of Knots at a makeshift shrine dedicated to her beside the Basilica Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. The Baumans participated in an archdiocesan pilgrimage to the World Meeting of Families held in Philadelphia from Sept. 22-25. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

PHILADELPHIA—The eighth World Meeting of Families that took place on Sept. 22-25 in Philadelphia involved liturgies and keynote addresses attended by thousands of Catholics from around the world.

But some of the most powerful moments for a number of the 46 pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis were spent apart from large crowds—moments in which they offered up prayers to God through the intercession of various saints and Our Lady, Undoer of Knots.

Doug and Julie Bauman, members of St. Barnabas Parish in Indianapolis and teachers at its school, made many heartfelt prayers while visiting a makeshift shrine to Our Lady next to the Basilica Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia.

Like thousands of other visitors to the shrine before and after their visit, they wrote their intentions on strips of paper and tied them in knots onto fencing, chicken wire and other netting surrounding the shrine.

Speaking through tears, Julie said she was moved “just to know that the Holy Father is going to be here and pray for us. It’s so touching.”

At the time, she didn’t know with certainty that Pope Francis would visit the shrine, but she hoped he would.

“We all have our struggles, and we all have our own lives. They’re all here together,” she said as she stood in the middle of the shrine on Sept. 22. “I know that even if he just drives by [the shrine], I know that our hearts and our prayers and our wishes are with him.”

This devotion to Mary, a favorite of Pope Francis, invites the faithful to offer up difficult problems, “knots,” to Christ through Mary so that she may “undo” them through her intercession.

Inside the cathedral were relics of the patron saints of the World Meeting of Families: St. John Paul II, St. Gianna Beretta Molla, St. Therese of Lisieux and her parents—Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin.

St. Gianna was an Italian wife, mother and physician who died in 1962, four days after giving birth to her fourth child, Dr. Gianna Emmanuela Molla, who attended the World Meeting of Families.

While pregnant, St. Gianna was diagnosed with a tumor on her uterus. Although her doctor recommended that she have a hysterectomy, she gave clear instructions that priority be given to caring for the life of her unborn child.

Among the second-class relics on display in the cathedral for veneration were a stethoscope used by St. Gianna and her wedding dress.

Annie Harton, a member of St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis, was excited about seeing and getting to venerate the saint’s relics when she visited the cathedral on Sept. 22.

“As a young person who is called to marriage and is also a marriage counselor, it’s important to see holiness in the family and to know that mothers and wives can also be called to holiness,” Harton said. “Hopefully, I can be like her someday. I would love to have my wedding dress on display someday.”

Five days later on Sept. 27, Deacon Patrick Bower was standing beside the cathedral while Pope Francis rode in a popemobile to see the congregation of nearly 1 million worshippers gathered for the closing Mass of the World Meeting of Families.

Deacon Bower had been sent to the cathedral to distribute Communion during the Mass to people who were on the outskirts of the massive assembly.

While waiting, a police officer on duty called him over to a fence. A child standing on the other side wanted about 50 strands of paper with intentions written on them to be added to the shrine.

While Deacon Bower and some college students from Philadelphia that he had befriended were tying them, the popemobile arrived.

Pope Francis got out, and visited and prayed at the shrine.

“It was phenomenal,” said Deacon Bower, who ministers at St. Barnabas Parish. “Everybody was literally shaking. It was one of those moments that you can’t explain. You couldn’t re-create it.”

The Baumans saw the pope’s visit to the shrine on a Jumbotron while they stood about a mile away from the cathedral, as near as they could get to the stage in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art that had been set up for the Mass.

Seeing the pope visit the shrine brought forth tears like their own visit to the shrine had five days earlier.

“We were screaming and jumping up and down and hugging,” Julie said. “It was like he heard all of our prayers. It was tears of joy all over again.”
 

(For more coverage of the archdiocesan pilgrimage to the World Meeting of Families and the papal visit, including photo galleries and links to blog posts, visit www.archindy.org/wmof.)

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