CHAPTER 17 – ROME WILL HAVE ITS SAINTS
Catie Jo, her mother and father, her oldest brother, and Fr Hugh arrived in Rome on a warm October day. Catie Jo knew it was the feast of Raymond, Catherine of Siena’s best friend, and she sensed Catherine’s excitement. Catherine said it was almost exciting as arriving in Avignon, which made the other holy friends of Catie Jo chuckle at the fact that Catherine would allow such a comparison.
Catie Jo bubbled with expectations about her Roman visit. She felt that the intuitive conversations with her friends especially during long flights from Salt Lake to New York and New York to Rome were more like historical lectures. Helena, the Empress, who still was very present in Catie Jo’s thoughts had told her that “Rome will have its Saints,” and that Catie Jo should be prepared to have an exciting time. Joan and Catherine said that she should trust her instincts when she met the pope. They told her she was going to meet at least one pope. This assertion made Catie Jo both nervous and curious to how she might meet two popes. Catherine only laughed and said in her day that possibility was very real.
Somehow her travels had caught the attention of her friends at CNN, and so when she and her companions arrived in New York there was a group of reporters waiting at the terminal to question her on what she was doing. Her father didn’t have much patience with her being surrounded by reporters, but he had to admit she was cute and charming responding to their questions about her Roman pilgrimage. When they arrived in Rome it wasn’t a reporter who first spotted them but an older Italian woman, who embraced Catie Jo and handed her a rosary saying “Rome welcomes you.” By the time the family got into to a taxi, several reporters had spotted her and were moving quickly in the family’s direction as the taxi sped off.
For two days the family toured the ancient city, while Fr Hugh followed up on some arrangements that had been made by Fr. Ferro. When Fr. Hugh visited the Vatican office of one of friends from the seminary, he heard that the almost former Bishop of Helena, was also in Rome. Fr. Hugh learned that the Bishop had arrived with some of his friends and would be present at the same papal audience that Catie Jo and her family would attend. An American nun working in the Vatican office, who seemed to have a mischievous gleam in her eye as she handed him assigned seat tickets for the audience, told him this interesting fact.
On the afternoon before the papal audience, Catie Jo found herself wandering on a side street near the Vatican separated from her family. She wasn’t lost. She was following her instincts as she had been instructed. She had a sense that she needed to be somewhere for another important meeting. She found a bench along the crowded side street and sat down waiting.
Before long, she noticed a tall, dignified churchman briskly walking toward her. She recognized him from pictures as the cardinal, who her Dad said ran the Vatican. It was his habit to walk from his residence to his office in Vatican City. On this day Catie Jo had been put in his path.
A wind came up and some papers that he was holding flew out of his hands. As he bent down to pick them up, Catie Jo grabbed one of them, a newspaper clipping and handed it to him. The clipping had a picture of a young girl in a New York airport in an article about the girl’s pilgrimage to Rome. The picture on the clipping matched the face of the young girl standing in front of him. He was uncharacteristically startled when the girl said to him, “Remember.”
For a moment, his thoughts flashed back to a distant disturbing moment in his youth when two Nazi officers had shown him a picture of one of his childhood friends asking if he knew where they could find her. He had lied and said he didn’t know and had hurried on. As his thoughts vanished and he stood looking eye to eye with Catie Jo, he felt again like hurrying away, but he was compelled to stay.
Catie Jo gently laughed and said she was pleased to meet him. Her gaze became serious and thoughtful. “You cannot help your lack of trust,” she told him, “what with all the terrible things you have seen. But you will need to come to believe that the Holy Spirit is greater than people’s sins.” She laughed and said that Teilhard had told her to give the cardinal that message and that Teilhard also sent his best wishes to him for future endeavors.
Although he was as flustered as he could ever be, the cardinal said, “I will not be mislead.”
Catie Jo returned a glassy stare, “No more than you already are,” she replied. “But before you go, please give me your blessing.” This request gave the Cardinal an easy way to exit, so he quickly gave his blessing to the girl standing next to him on the Roman street. He waited for a moment for her kneel, but the demeanor of the child told him that would never happen. As he turned to leave, Catie Jo’s family came around a corner and yelled at her.
Catie Jo saw the expression on his face as the cardinal looked at her mother and father. She said to the cardinal as he walked away, “You could walk with us.” As he disappeared down the street, Catie quietly said, “See you later.”
Her American family was not pleased with her disappearance, but they stood looking at the rustle of the clerical robe of the departing cleric, wondering what Catie Jo had been doing.
She said with a heavy sigh, “I guess I’m doing Heaven’s business.”