Eastern Iowans get close encounter with Pope in Philadelphia - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Eastern Iowans get close encounter with Pope in Philadelphia

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PHILADELPHIA (KWWL) -

A bus trip of Catholics from Waterloo and Dubuque Parishes arrived in Philadelphia today, and their pilgrimage paid off.

Gina Kubik and Lori Beckman staked out their spot around 2:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon, and stayed there until after 7, when Pope Francis, in his lit up Pope mobile, drove by the pair, coming within feet of them.

"The Pope literally went right in front of us and he gave a little blessing and it was a blessing to be here and to see him go by. Just to be here with all these people and to experience Philadelphia with the Pope," Kubik said.

Beckman was equally as excited. "I'm almost speechless. I mean, I'm 20 feet within the Holy Father. What can you say? I'm so excited."

They are just two among what city officials might have been up to 2 million people headed to the city to get a glimpse of the Pope.

In a large, blocked off area known as the Pope zone, the atmosphere was festive: music circles singing hymns, and the faithful getting to know others who had made their own journey's to see the Pontiff.

For Beckman and Kubik, the long bus ride and all the sitting and waiting was worth it when the Pope rolled by.

"We've been sitting in the same spot since 2:30 this afternoon, so yes, it was worth it, to see him, for 5 seconds, it was worth it. I'll never get to see him again probably, so yes, it was worth it," Beckman said.

"It was awesome. It was a once in a lifetime, very memorable," Kubik added.

The group will be back downtown Sunday for more festivities.  The Pope is scheduled to head back to Rome at 8 p.m. Sunday night.

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