When Pope Francis made his much anticipated visit to the United States on September 22nd our home was a flurry of excitement—television screens were tuned to every news station, Residents, staff, and Sisters gathering to catch a glimpse of him at the White House or hear a minute of his speech. As the excitement unfolded in D.C., volunteers and Activities staff were busy setting up for a little celebration of our own in the auditorium, featuring specially made ‘Papal knot’ pretzels. Made by a local branch of the Philadelphia Pretzel Factory, the pretzels were fashioned to resemble a papal knot in honor of Pope Francis’ particular devotion to Mary Untier of Knots. As residents enjoyed their pretzels with special mustard, chocolate, and pumpkin dipping sauces, volunteer Karen Lucas read a passage about how Pope Francis came to appreciate the symbol of the knot.
It all began in Germany, where the Holy Father discovered a painting of Mary in which she is holding a ribbon that is both tied and untied. The painting was found to tell the story of a German couple with a troubled marriage who sought counsel from a local priest. The priest prayed to Mary, “I raise up the bond of marriage, that all knots be loosed and resolved,” and the couple was said to live happily in love for the rest of their years. After discovering the painting, commissioned by the grandson of the couple as a thanksgiving to Mary, Pope Francis brought the image home to Argentina where he encouraged the veneration of Mary Untier of Knots.
As the festivities continued in our home, Mother Marie, Sr Elizabeth, Sr Agathe, and Sr Marcelle were in the midst of a truly wonderful experience of their own. After obtaining tickets to see the Holy Father in D.C., they were greeted by a surprise visit to the Washington home! Each of our Sisters received the honor of meeting the Pope face to face, shaking his hand, and kissing his ring. It was a truly a blessing for our Sisters, and they came home beaming!