(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis greeted the reporters who joined him on the plane Friday for his apostolic journey to Havana – for a brief meeting with Russian Patriarch Kirill – and Mexico.
The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, said the Holy Father had a “beautiful meeting” with the journalists, and called the journey “very important.”
Father Lombardi said the Pope noted it was the final apostolic trip of Alberto Gasbarri, the coordinator of papal journeys, and thanked him for his 47 years of service to the Vatican.
The dean of the Holy See Press Corps, Valentina Alazraki of Mexico’s “Televisa”, gave Pope Francis a sombrero to celebrate his journey to her native country. The Holy Father also revealed to the journalists she gave him some films starring the Mexican comedian Cantinflas earlier in the week to help him prepare for his trip, which Pope Francis said were a “good laugh.”
“My deepest desire is to pause before Our Lady of Guadalupe, this mystery that is studied, and studied, and studied, and there is no human explanation,” Pope Francis said on the plane, adding even scientists say the image is "a thing of God."
Wall Street Journal correspondent Francis X. Rocca sent a Facebook message from the plane describing an “unusual” and “moving” encounter, with Noel Diaz of ESNE Catholic television in Los Angeles.
“As a child in his native Tijuana, Mexico, Diaz shined shoes for money. So today he knelt down in the aisle and shined the pope's shoes, then gave him a custom-made shoeshine kit,” Rocca writes. “Diaz told the pope he intended these presents as reminders of the unheralded struggles of ordinary, honest people across Mexico and among immigrants to the U.S.”
Responding to press reports of a papal visit to Colombia, Pope Francis said he could visit the country in 2017 if peace talks between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) continue to go forward.