Ralph recently receive the following letter in response to a mention made on The Choices We Face about meeting Pope John Paul ll in St Peter’s Square on Pentecost 1998.
By Kerri Dunn
I want to share with you an experience I had at the same event. I thought it might put a smile on your face; it still does for me, almost twenty years later!
Our Father is so good to us! We really just are His little children, and I do believe that He delights in the chance to do things like this for us.
In May of 1998, I was given the chance to go to Rome to celebrate the feast of Pentecost in St. Peter’s Square with Pope John Paul ll. This was a dream of mine. I had always wished that I could be in the presence of this holy man.
I had been joking around with God for a while prior to this—asking, or rather telling, Him to make it possible for me to just be somewhere near Pope John Paul ll. I didn’t know how I would ever make it work. I was about twenty years old, and I had no money. I asked God to work out the details for me of when, and where, and how I would ever afford to make it happen. It sounds pretty bossy! It was very much a Father-daughter conversation between me and my Daddy in Heaven!
Shortly after this prayer request, a woman I knew came into the place where I was working. She told me her daughter was going to Rome to see the pope. I was excited and told her I would like to go. She said I could probably join the trip. She said the whole trip only cost $500.
Airfare, simple lodging at a camp ground, and meals were included. I realized that I could really make this work! This in itself is pretty miraculous to me—how it all just fell on to my lap—but something even more amazing happened once we got there.
We arrived in Rome. Since I was a little older than some people on the trip, I was put in charge of ten girls. I had to hold on to their tickets to get into St. Peter’s Square. The time came for our first gathering there with Pope John Paul ll! With 500,000 people, it was very crowded. We were walking in a huge crowd through the streets of Rome leading into St. Peter’s. There was such an energy and excitement all around! I was so excited! Suddenly, I realized that I had forgot all ten tickets and my own behind. There was no way for me to get them back. Without the tickets, we would not be able to get in. I just sunk inside. I had just ruined this trip for these ten girls.
I knew there was only one thing left to do—put my trust in the faith that got me to Rome in the first place! I turned to the girls and said, “I am very sorry; I lost your tickets. Now we have to just pray for God to help us.” I proceeded to lead them in prayer as we walked, calling on God’s mercy, knowing that He had brought us all this far and wasn’t going to end it this way. I begged. I asked Saint Michael the Archangel to help me fight this battle. I pled with Mary, as my mother, to fix the problem for me: “Beg Jesus for me; He always listens to you.” I knew the Holy Father had a special love in his heart for Mary, so I played on that a little too: “Come on Mama, I know how special the Holy Father is to you too! You want us to see this man!”
But above all, I trusted my Jesus.
We came to the entrance. We waited in a long line, body-to-body with people. We watched as two guards checked each person ahead of us, examining their tickets and their bags before they could enter. Finally, our turn came, and I led the way. I told the guards that I lost our tickets, hoping that my innocent face would be enough. NOPE. They said, “No, no, no, you must go down there and stay on the outside, where people go with no tickets.”
I was weary and turned away, with the ten girls following me. We got about sixty to one hundred feet away from where the guards were. A large crowd stood between us and the guards.
(I am literally shaking as I type this next part, as I do each time I have ever told this story; it is all very real and amazing to me.)
In a crowd this large, you have trouble hearing the person next to you, never mind someone far away. As we were walking away, I suddenly felt the urge to turn around. When I did, I instantly locked eyes with this very large guard, who I had not see before. He was standing at the gate we had just tried. In that same very instant, I clearly heard him say, “Go.” I did not take any time to think about it. If I had, I might have realized that this did not make sense, but I think that it was a grace of the Holy Spirit that caused me not to question it. I just turned to the girls and said, “Let’s go!” We made our way through the crowd again and went to the same gate, with the same guards who had just told us “no.” The large guard who I had just seen and heard through the crowd was not there. I walked up to those same guards and this time said nothing; I just passed by them, with the ten girls behind me. They did not stop us or speak to us. It was as if they could not see us. As soon as we all passed by, I looked back, and directly after us, they were checking each person’s ticket and bag carefully, one at a time. AMAZING!
Now for the Star Wars fans out there, I have to put this in; one of my prayers that day was: “Jesus, You know that scene in the movie where they are looking for the droids, and Obi-Wan uses a Jedi mind trick on the soldiers who are looking for them? He just waves his hand in front of their face and says, “these are not the droids you are looking for,” and the soldiers just let them pass by. Make that happen, Jesus!”
Basically, that is what happened! I was so thankful, I just cried out, “Thank you Jesus! Thank you Mary!” And just as I did, I smelled a very strong scent of roses pass by me. My eyes filled with tears, as I quickly scanned the concrete for any sign of roses being around. Of course, there weren’t any! I turned to my cousin, who was standing there with me, and she asked, “Did you smell that?” We just smiled. I knew that God, through the intercession of my mother Mary, had just done a great thing for us! All for a chance to be in the presence of Saint John Paul ll!
This is my miracle in Saint Peter’s Square. And, who was that large guard who told me to go? I don’t know; he was dressed in a different uniform than the others. I once told this story to a priest, and he told me it was probably Saint Michael the Archangel, like I had asked for!