Pope Francis’ recent visit to Philadelphia was a momentous event for the city, and it was also one of the most memorable ones for a Temple faculty member.
On Sept. 27, as Pope Francis made his way down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, two-month-old Eleanor Murray was kissed and blessed by the Pope. Her father Brian Murray, an Abraham Freedman Fellow and lecturer in law at the Beasley School of Law, was there for the whole experience.
“It was pretty overwhelming, in so many different ways,” Murray told The Temple News. “There’s no way to know that your kid is going to be one of the nine kids picked out of a crowd of almost a million people.”
The day began with no expectation that anything noteworthy would occur, other than seeing the Pope from afar. Murray took the train down with his wife, his first daughter Elizabeth, Eleanor and a friend.
The Catholic family arrived at the Parkway about two hours before the Pope was set to arrive, when people started to make way for the family to move to the front of the crowds.
“Some people noticed that we had a small baby, and said, ‘You guys have to move to the front, to try to get your baby blessed by the Pope,’” Murray said.
He ended up in the front and as the Pope drove by, Murray held up Eleanor. A security officer came and brought her to the pontiff, where she was kissed and blessed and then returned safely to her father.
“It all happened in about 25 seconds,” Murray said. “She was asleep the whole time.”
The night before, Murray’s wife mentioned a mutual friend had her own child blessed by the Pope at Independence Hall—little did they know their family would soon have their own similar news to share.
“We’re worried about our daughter’s naptime, and there are families with six kids driving from Argentina,” Murray said.
Murray and his wife were raised Catholic, but he said this will not affect Eleanor’s daily life in any significant way.
“It won’t really alter our day-to-day life much at all, other than to remind us how precious life is,” Murray said. “It’s just something I hope she’ll consider a really important part of her life.”
Although Eleanor won’t experience any drastic change in her lifestyle caused by this event, Murray still believes this is one of the most important things to happen in both his and her life.
“You think about those days as you go through your life that compose the top 10 days of your life, and you think, ‘Well, Eleanor got kissed by the Pope,’” he said. “That’s definitely top five in my life. For her, it’s probably number two at this point, following the day she was born.”
Sami Rahman can be reached at email@example.com.