Danielle placing her petition Danielle placing her petition

The City of Brotherly Love

Philadelphia is known as “the city of brotherly love” and this was evident during Pope Francis’ recent visit here. We live in New Jersey close to the city and were fortunate to be able to hop on the “Speed Line,” a train that connects South Jersey to Philadelphia, on our way to the World Meeting of Families a few days before the Pope’s arrival. Walking the streets, we could feel the papal frenzy everywhere, running the gamut from vendors on the street selling souvenirs to exhibits of ancient biblical manuscripts on loan from the Vatican for the event.

Mary, Undoer of Knots

The highlight for us was to go to the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul where the faithful had constructed a grotto of prayer intentions to Mary, Undoer of Knots. We had learned of the grotto from a friend who was volunteering there and had left a prayer intention to aid our daughter Danielle, who is non-verbal and has autism. As the days grew nearer to  Pope Francis’ arrival and the number of prayer petitions increased, we decided to take Danielle there ourselves.

At the Grotto At the Grotto

We are so glad we did. Although the crowd was large, there was a feeling of prayerfulness and peace that permeated the place. We wrote our prayer petitions on long strips of paper and tied them to the structures that had been erected. Stepping into one of these huts made us feel like we were covered in prayer. We left many petitions there, including prayers for a cure for autism and the gift of speech. As part of this devotion, we were told to untie one of the thousands of prayer strips on the site and pray to Mary on behalf of that petitioner. We did so and knew that others would be doing the same for us. As we were leaving the grotto we thought of Jesus’ words about prayer:

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”

Dave and Danielle at the Grotto Dave and Danielle at the Grotto

Copyright 2015 David and Mercedes Rizzo
Photo copyright 2015 David and Mercedes Rizzo. All rights reserved.