Amanda Wakefield, THS ’15, at the center of St. Peter’s Square in Rome as St. Francis canonizes Mother Teresa
When Tower Hill graduate Amanda Wakefield made the decision to study in Rome this semester, she planned to do what most college co-eds do — see the sights, enjoy the pizzarias — and of course, visit the Vatican. And that’s just where she found herself on September 4th, in the middle of St. Peter’s Square witnessing an historic and holy event: the canonization of Mother Teresa by Pope Francis.
Wakefield was no more than 50 feet away from the Pope as he praised the selflessness and humility of one of the 20th century’s most visible religious figures who worked tirelessly with “the poorest of the poor.” TSD connected with Wakefield for an exclusive on this most memorable college experience.
Town Square Delaware: How did you happen to attend the canonization?
Amanda Wakefield: I was talking with one of my friends that I met in my program about the event, and she mentioned that she had some extra tickets. She offered them to my roommate and I. We decided that we could not miss the experience, especially if we had tickets that would allow us to experience it up close!
TSD: It must have been a very moving experience. What was most memorable?
Just a few feet away, Amanda snaps a picture of Pope Francis as he waves to the throngs
Wakefield: The experience was absolutely amazing. It was so moving to see everyone waving the flags of their home countries in the air. Although I could not understand most of the ceremony because it was almost all in Italian, it was so memorable and I could understand everyone’s emotions and happiness from just standing there in the crowds.
I particularly remember the moment that the Pope declared Mother Teresa a Saint because the crowds were clapping and screaming. In that moment, I felt really lucky to be involved in such a historic and once-in-a-lifetime event.
TSD: The crowds were huge. Did you get a good view of the Pope and the ceremony?
Wakefield: The crowds were absolutely crazy! My friends and I had to wake up at 3:30 in the morning to venture over to the Vatican from our apartment to ensure that we would be close when the ceremony started (at 10:30). People were camping out in order to save their spots in line.
There were long lines at the two security check points and lots of pushing and shoving in the crowds. But we managed to get pretty close to the front. As early as we got there, we still couldn’t find seats anywhere. So we ended up finding a place on the ground. It was not the most comfortable place to be due to the rocky ground and heat from the sun, but it was worth it to be as close as we could get.
We could see the Pope and all of the action. At the end, the Pope actually came around waving to all of the people in the crowds, and my roommate and I were lucky enough to be pretty close to the barricade to have a clear vision of him. People were standing on chairs trying to get pictures. It was really crazy but so worth every moment.
TSD: Was that your first time at the Vatican?
Wakefield: This was my first time at the Vatican! I had only been in Rome for two weeks before the canonization took place, so I was so busy with getting adjusted that I had not found the time to go. Witnessing the ceremony was of course an extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And to hear the Pope speak in Latin and see his many followers so happy and joyous was amazing. But I definitely want to go back at some point while I am here to have a less hectic and crowded view and experience of the church because it is so beautiful.
TSD: You must have felt pretty lucky to have taken part in such a newsworthy moment of 2016.
Wakefield: I am really grateful I was able to attend this historic event! It was kind of random that I was able to get a ticket — just a simple conversation with another girl in my program allowed me to experience something so amazing.
Although it was one of the most tiring days I’ve had in a while, I am so glad I decided to attend the ceremony and will never forget what I experienced that day.