An Emotional Rollercoaster

Patrick Ward writes…

I am a 36-year-old bloke from Liverpool.  I don’t consider myself to be particularly sentimental and I’m not necessarily prone to great bouts of gushing emotion.  And yet, over the course of the four-day visit of Pope Benedict, I have found myself to be deeply moved, emotional and close to tears on numerous occasions.  Why?

The first time it happened was when I was in work on Thursday morning.  In between meetings, I logged on to the live stream to see “Shepherd One” land in Scotland.  A knot tightened in my chest.  Yes, I got emotional at the sight of an aeroplane landing. 

On Friday morning, I was privileged to get a ticket to attend ‘The Big Assembly’.  Before the Holy Father arrived, I read his speech to the children in the press office.  It was beautiful.  Surrounded by media hacks, I felt myself welling up at the profound words that the Pope was about to address to the nation’s children. 

Later that day, I joined my family and friends on Millbank to wave at the Pontiff as he travelled from one historical event at Lambeth Palace to another at Westminster Hall.  He drove past.  We all cheered and waved.  And after he passed, I felt my heart pounding and my eyes filling up again. 

On television the next morning, I watched the Mass from Westminster Cathedral (see my blog, “Real Prayer”).  At the end of the service, as ‘Benedicto’ walked out of the great doors to greet the young people waiting on the Piazza, my Adam’s Apple throbbed once more. 

On Saturday evening, I was in Hyde Park and felt deeply moved by the uniqueness of being in a crowd of 80,000 people in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. 

On Sunday morning, sat with a small group of strangers from my parish in a cold, wet Cofton Park in Birmingham after a long and tiring early morning journey, my heart was squeezed some more with these historical words, simply spoken:

“We declare that venerable Servant of God
Cardinal John Henry Newman
Priest of the Congregation of the Oratory,
Shall henceforth be invoked as Blessed.”

Then, as I arrived home after an exhausting four days (how on earth must the 84-year-old Pope feel?), I switched on the telly and saw the Holy Father leave in his aeroplane after this truly historical visit.  And, yes, I felt the urge to cry my eyes out once more.  Why, why, why?

Not normal behaviour for me.  Trust me.  Honest.  I am still trying to make sense of it all.

Writing this blog has actually really helped to make sense of my thoughts and responses to this visit.  I will return to this blog for one more time in a day or two – a final recollection and summing up of this experience for me.

This entry was posted in Birmingham, Cofton Park, Edinburgh, Hyde Park, London, St Mary's University College Twickenham, The Visit, Westminster Abbey, Westminster Cathedral, Westminster Hall and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to An Emotional Rollercoaster

  1. leftfooter says:

    Don’t worry – you’re normal. Pope John Paul had the same effect on me when he came to the U.K., and I wasn’t even a Catholic then.

    It’s not just the Pope – it’s the message. Thank God.

  2. Thank you. I’m glad I’m not the only one who felt like this. I didn’t get to any of the events but followed them on the webcast. I only got to see the moment of beatification this morning and felt overwhelmed with joy. We have a wonderful faith.

  3. NTheobald says:

    Dear Patrick, Yours is a beautiful account of the Holy Spirit touching your heart deeply with Love. I was moved to tears just reading your words. Thank you for sharing your witness to Christ in His Church. I felt similar when the Holy Father visited Washington DC and I was blessed to attend the Mass at Nationls Park. Blessings to you!

  4. Michael Carrie says:

    I agree, you are normal. I’m a 35 year seminarian from Scotland and I felt exactly the same. It has been a truly emotional time. I was lucky to be involved in the Mass at Bellahouston, helping in the Papal Entourage’s sacristy, and felt so privileged. Like yourself, the moment the Holy Father emerged from Westminster Cathedral to be greeted by the young people, I was on the verge of tears. The expression of joy on his face was something to behold.

    I was also lucky to get a last-minute chance to go to Birmingham for the Beatification, and despite the long bus journey from Scotland, it was a truly memorable day.

    So, you are not alone. The warmth exuded by Papa Benedetto has touched the hearts of many thousands of people, and to quote Cardinal O’Brien, “the Benedict Bounce” will be a time of good for this country. God Bless you Holy Father!

  5. Elibeth says:

    Hi Patrick, I saw a link to your blog on the Papal Visit website and just had to come and read it. Your thoughts and feelings resonated so strongly with exactly what I have been feeling over the four days of the visit and even now, sitting here typing this, I’m doing so with tears streaming down my face. I have to be honest here and admit, that up until Sunday of last week, I had absolutely no intention of going along to Bellahouston Park. A friend who had been “down south” looking after his sick brother had asked if there were any spare “tickets” available within out parish as he had just returned and hadn’t been able to put his name down for one. I asked our Parish Priest if there were (whilst my friend queued for tea in our Sunday cafe and he said there were and he could go. When I told my friend (Gerry) he was so chuffed. I, without thinking, said that I hadn’t got one because I thought that I’d be working that day but as it’s turned out, I wasn’t. So he in turn asked if there was a ticket available for me and I ended up being a pilgrim leader. On thinking about why I had had this change of heart I mulled over whether it was just a “catholic guilt” thing or whether it was because this wee, 83 year old man, had travelled all this way to see us and I couldn’t be bothered to travel less than two miles to Bellahouston Park to see him. In the end, I had to admit, that I WANTED to be there. Sure, I had been to see Pope John Paul II in the same park, whilst I was at school in 1982 and I have an everlasting memory of that day because of the plinth that remains in the park of where his altar had been but this trip, for whatever reason has really touched me. I’m about to start a new job in two weeks time and there is part of me that doesn’t want to do it because I want to do something more worthwhile with my life. I want to and know that I can give and do more but I just don’t know how and that feeling, although a wee nagging voice in my head for years that I did nothing about, is now shouting and screaming at me but I just don’t know how or where to direct myself. This has only come about over these last four days and this visit by Pope Benedict. I like, you Patrick have been so overwhelmed and emotional these past few days (especially when he boarded Shepherd One for his flight home) and I feel like I have rambled on, here in this post but somehow, you have provided an outlet for these feelings I have inside of me and I have to say thanks for that.

  6. Jude says:


    Thanks very much for this blog post. As an American who has, in some ways, adopted Britain as my second home, I didn’t miss much coverage of the Papal visit. And I found myself having the exact same reactions as you. In the midst of the protests, and the enormous signs of British secularism and relativism, I was proud (in, hopefully, the best of ways). I was proud to be a Roman Catholic and even prouder of the Vicar of Christ. Every single word he said and every single thing he did was spot on. I did not have the fortune to be present, as did you, but still responded the same way. I think our response comes from a true inner realization and acceptance of the fact that Benedict is, in fact, Christ’s true representative here on earth, and that, indeed, is an overwhelming thing. God bless you and God bless the Pope.

  7. Lorna Vicente-Heidenreich says:

    I thank the Lord for touching you…just what Pope Benedict said…He needs people to bring and share His love to others…do what you can. Be His light to the world…through your good examples. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit for wisdom and love. God bless you!!!

  8. I felt the same. I couldn’t go to any of the events as I am not long after having my baby boy. I’ve had a rough time in terms of extended family not giving the support we’ve needed; when The Holy Father arrived I remember that through my gift of faith I belong to a massive Catholic family and that looking at the bigger picture, I had that to draw upon for guidance in bringing up my little boy.

    I felt such joy when I heard the young people cheer Pope Benedict and I hope one day my little boy will part of that youth of the Church.

    I felt a little sad when Pope Benedict left, it may sound strange but I was comforted by him being in the country!!!!!!! I suppose he is our Papa!

  9. Mrs Maria Coates says:

    When the Holy Father’s plane landed and he appeared, tears were streaming down my cheeks. I prayed at that moment that his presence would herald many blessings being showered on our children who are being led astray.

    When he left our shores sadness descended to be replaced by optimism that the Faith would rise triumphantly after his wise words. God bless you Holy Father.

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