Thursday, 6 December 2007

Before Blessed John XXIII

Westminster Cathedral Choir visited Italy in 1963. In Loreto (above) they took part in a concert, but the highlight of the tour was a visit to Rome when two choristers, John Hirsch and Francis Hughes, were presented to Pope John XXIII.

John Hirsch recalled, "I was to give a gift from the choir school to the Pope. It was a booklet of Our Lady of Westminster. I was accompanied by Francis Hughes with a statue; I thought I was to give the book to one of the Monsignori who would present it but I actually gave it to the Pope, and kissed his ring. I was told that he would remember my mother at his next Mass; that night I got the news through to my mother, who was thrilled."
Francis Hughes, who presented the statue of Our Lady of Westminster, confessed to having been almost overcome by the solemnity of the occasion. "I knelt before him trembling. He said something in Italian, and it was translated. He asked me my mother's name; he then said he would remember her at Mass next day. I then walked down the steps, thankful it was over. Who could ask for more than this?"

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