It's no secret: Pope Francis is an online phenomenon. From quotes to internet memes, the online community follows and shares everything the Holy Father says and does.
So when the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church takes a 'selfie' - a self-portrait taken by a mobile phone - you better believe it’s going to go viral. This most famously happened last year when a group of young people from the diocese of Piacenza posed for a 'selfie' with the Holy Father in St. Peter's basilica.
But little did Marco Antonio Lome and his wife Zaira Venegas know that they, too, would have their own 'selfie' with the Pope. Like many newlywed couples, Lome and Venegas travelled to Rome after their recent nuptials to receive a papal blessing. As is customary, at the end of each General Audience, the Holy Father individually greets the couples.
Describing his encounter as “very emotional”, Lome said there were many things he wanted to tell the Pope but his excitement was too great to say much.
“I felt very happy and at the same time, admiration for the simplicity and joy that the Pope transmits,” Lome told ZENIT. “There are no words to describe it but being there, you see it, you perceive it. It is being close to the Vicar of Christ - not as some in the media describe it but rather as being with 'someone' very close, very paternal, very humble and concerned about us.”
Lome, who hails from Guadalajara, Mexico, is the director of the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family which he said works to “promote a true culture of the family.”
After showing the Pope a picture of the alumni of the Institute, Lome’s wife, Zaira asked if they could give him a hug for Father’s Day, which is typically celebrated in Italy on March 19, the Feast of St. Joseph. “He told us yes and we gave him a hug,” Lome recalled. “He gave us his blessing and said “pray for me”.
Gathering up his courage, Lome then asked the Holy Father if would be willing to take a picture with the couple. “So many photos have been taken already but if you want to, then that's fine”, the Pope said according to Lome.
Lome said his experience of meeting the Holy Father embodies a commitment to a personal witness of his faith and of marriage as well as a call to pray for Pope Francis and all those who work in “pastoring the Church.”
“The witness that the Pope gave us was simplicity, tenderness and joy,” Lome said. “He says it himself: be the face of the mercy of God. Today it is so important to not only give a coherent Catholic witness but also of Catholic joy (joy for Christ, for the Gospel, for the Church.) In this way we live and express the universality of the Church.”