B16, Row 1, St. Peter’s Basilica

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI had just walked by when I saw some of his fans in St. Peter’s Basilica for the closing Mass of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East.

B16 fans enjoy the moment after seeing the pontiff. (CNS/Paul Haring)

This was in the people’s section of the basilica, an area for ardent fans, (who know where the pope will arrive), but also for those with no expectations of seeing the pontiff.

In the people's section, you can be yourself. This boy was blessed last year. (CNS/Paul Haring)

It’s an area where you can wear your heart on your sleeve and the pope just might reach out to you. It’s OK to wear a red T-shirt saying, “Catholic Est. 0033,” or other Catholic fan apparel.

A young fan sports his Benedict jersey last Sunday. (CNS/Paul Haring)

The scene in the people’s section reminded me of attending Sunday Mass in Pittsburgh on game day. Many people wear their yellow and black Steelers jerseys to Mass as they prepare for the big game. Similarly, what better way to show your affection for the pontiff than by wearing a “Benedict 16” jersey?