VATICAN CITY — The infant son of a Catholic News Agency editor received a farewell kiss on his forehead from Pope Benedict yesterday at the plaza of St. Peter’s Basilica before Benedict's final general audience.
“To see him today, in the final hours of his papacy, and to have him hold my son in his arms was a special kind of blessing and a consolation from the Lord,” Jenny Uebbing, the mother of the fortunate infant, John Paul, told Catholic News Agency on Feb. 27.
“I asked the Lord to help me truly experience this morning, this last event with Pope Benedict, and to not be anxious about whether we would get a good spot or be able to see him drive by.”
“I had so much peace while we were waiting for the audience to begin, and I just prayed that if we were meant to get close to His Holiness, the Lord would arrange the details. And he did.”
Uebbing had come to the plaza at 7:30 in the morning with her sister and her two sons, John Paul and Joey. On her blog, Mama Needs Coffee, she described three hours of “pressing crowds and stalwartly holding our position against the barricade, hoping against hope to catch a glimpse of our beloved Holy Father.”
Dave Uebbing, John Paul’s father and office head of CNA’s Rome bureau, described how “a security guard offered to pass him to Archbishop Ganswein when the popemobile came by.”
Archbishop Georg Gänswein is head of the prefecture of the papal household and was in the popemobile along with Pope Benedict. He held John Paul while the Pope embraced him and gave him a fatherly kiss.
After John Paul was passed back to Jenny, the Pope passed by their spot in the crowd.
“We locked eyes for a moment, and I was able to tell him, ‘Thank you.’ That was all I could have asked for: to personally thank him, not only for the moment of grace when he kissed my little son, but for his total gift of self to the Church,” she said.
Her sister, Christina, also described her own experience of sharing a glance with the Holy Father.
“It felt like I was looking at Jesus, in a way. When I looked into his eyes, I didn’t see only the man, the Pope, but also the One he serves. There was so much love and kindness in his eyes.”
Pope Benedict holds a special place in Jenny’s heart as “the Holy Father who invited me home to the faith of my childhood. In a sense, he held open the door of the Church and welcomed me inside again.”
Dave told CNA that “my wife and I were overjoyed at the Pope’s kindness and the gentle love you could see on his face when he kissed John Paul.”
The Uebbings moved to Rome in early January. “Before today we would have already said that Pope Benedict made our lives a lot more exciting than we thought he would, but when our youngest son was kissed by him today, we were speechless,” Dave said.
For a child of only 10 months, John Paul already has quite the papal connections. Aside from being kissed on the forehead by the vicar of Christ, he was named for Pope Benedict’s predecessor. Also, he was born on April 19, 2012, the seventh anniversary of Pope Benedict’s election as bishop of Rome.