As Pope Francis processed to the altar at Madison Square Garden, he was close enough for our own Robert Moses to touch him, as he described it. He was invited to the Mass by Adrian Pallarols, a master Silversmith and longtime friend of the Holy Father.
Pallarols made the chalice that his holiness used to celebrate Communion, Which we first mentioned in a story leading up to the Pope's visit.
There, he was holding it up for the world to see.
The chalice was made of melted silver jewelry that people from all across the US donated, so the Pope held a part of each in his hands.
For Pallarols, it was emotional and unforgettable. All of his work and more than a decade of friendship culminated in that moment.
He, along with the rest of us at Madison Square Garden, stood and applauded for a long time to show our appreciation for the Holy Father.
Almost as soon as the Pope walked past me at the end of the mass, a guard whisked us to a private room behind the altar.
And there he was…the Holy Father, ever humble and ever gracious.
I shook his hand and hugged him.
I asked that he pray for my loved ones and I promised to pray for him, too.
I also wished him safe travels.
One of his guards handed me a set of rosary beads.
Then we left the room and allowed him to greet a few more people.
It had been a long day.
We saw him one more time in the back seat of his fiat.
A light illuminated his face perfectly, so his smile was clearly visible as I stood just a few feet away.
Then, he left to turn in for the night.
Pallarols had given the Pope the gift of the chalice. And he gave me a gift for which I will never be able to adequately thank him.