… Here’s an interesting story. Leandro Martins, a cyclist completing a world bike tour, stops in Italy and gets to the meet the Pope.
Here’s a bit of what happens next during their informal encounter;
“The Pope knew I was not catholic, and I know that he’s a very simple guy who doesn’t care much about protocol and stuff. So I treated him in the same way I treat everyone I meet on this trip: with a smile, kindness, and affection.
I didn’t kiss his ring, instead we shook hands and hugged.
We talked about a lot of things while we walked outside to where my bike was. We spoke in Spanish, and I gave him the greetings sent by the priest of Santiago of Chile, where I lived and have friends that I had called yesterday.
He knows Porto Alegre, my city, he said he has relatives in Pelotas, another city in my state. In fact when he lived in Buenos Aires he went to my state many times to visit his family.
We spoke about the tragedy of Santa Maria, and I said that during all the years I have been living abroad that was the news I heard from Brazil that most got me down. Around 240 people died in that fire, only young people. He said that he couldn’t go to Santa Maria, since it’s too far from the places where he will be next week in Brazil, but he also found it to be a tragedy and he would remember that while in Brazil.
When we got outside, the Pope shook hands with the guys of the Swiss guard who were by the door and I did the same. I showed him my bike and spoke about my trip. I said, “this is my house, the bed, kitchen, and so on. He asked me questions and we both laughed when I said that you find crazy people everywhere including in Porto Alegre, the Pope said, “life is crazy!!”
I gave him the drawing that a little Czech boy, nephew of a nun from the monastery where I’m staying, had sent him. And as I do with all the nice people I meet on my trip, we took a picture together and he signed my Brazilian flag, where he wrote
“Que Dios te acompañe – Francisco – 18-7-13″ (May God accompany you).