A hitchhiker’s guide to the popemobile

VATICAN CITY — With eagle eyesight, Pope Francis spotted him in a crowd of 50,000 people. Or maybe he first recognized the voice — one of dozens screaming “Santo Padre!” “Holy Father!”

Today at his first Wednesday general audience of the new year, Pope Francis plucked a fellow Argentine out of the throng and gave him the ride of his life.

Fr. Fabian Baez

Screen grab of Argentine Father Fabian Baez from Buenos Aires hitching a ride on the popemobile during the general audience in St. Peter’s Square Jan. 8.

Father Fabian Baez is a parish priest at the Our Lady of the Pillar church in the pope’s former Archdiocese of Buenos Aires.

He told La Nacion that he shouted “Santo Padre” to get the pope’s attention.

The pope saw the priest, made his driver stop the popemobile and gestured to him to come see him. They waited until the priest could make it past the people in front of him, the large wooden barricade and security.

As you can see in the video, the two hugged warmly, the pope asked if he were by himself and when he said, “Yes,” told him, “Come! Get on!” and take a seat next to the papal assistant.

As the priest clambers on, the pope rightly tells him:  “The picture will go around the world.”

After we asked the Vatican press hall to find out who the then-mystery hitchhiker was, they got back to us not just his name, but that the pope also told his aides that the priest is “a great confessor.”

Father Baez got to ride the whole long way around the square with the pope and then was given special seating at the start of the audience. The two even got to chat briefly at the end of the audience before the pope returned to his residence.

The priest summed up the day best on his Twitter feed:

“I’m going to change my biography. ‘The poor priest who got on the popemobile today with #PopeFrancis'”

If you know Spanish, check out his Twitter feed @paterfabian and his tumblr account paterfabian.tumblr.com

7 Responses

  1. Long´live our Pope . Come Holy Spirit guide our Pope always.

  2. Pope Francis is a GIFT to US, God’s Church. Santo Padre, he has come from us and why wouldn’t he recognise a Priest from his old Diocese. God bless him.

  3. What is not to love about the Holy Father? He rocks!

  4. Luke 14,8:11 came immediately to mind. While not identical to the situation, Jesus’ parable is undeniably what the Pope was demonstrating: (NIV) “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. 11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

    I am neither Catholic, nor am I religious at all. Yet this even watered my eyes. What a true role model this GENTLEMAN is!

  5. I was watching the live feed. It was surprising to see the priest as he joined the Pope. It was immediately apparent that they knew each other. Such a warm moment as the greeted one another.I am happy to know their story.

  6. Yes! The Pope appears as a great model. But many like me will disagree because of him many other sides! We must be strive to do good all the time, sticking to the eternal teachings of the Church. Good works and good behavior here and there will not make us good in the eyes of God. but they may make us good in the eyes of men!

  7. The Holy Father, by his repeated actions and words of Kindness, is spreading the beautiful message of Christ and drawing much positive attention to the Catholic faith.

    What an inspiration he is to us all. Divine!

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