St. Thomas students were in for a surprise Thursday when the St. John Vianney’s version of Pope Francis I made an appearance.
With just 24 hours to plan, seminarians gathered costumes, made T-shirts and collected flags for the celebration.
Sophomore John Vinton, who played Pope Francis, said he had a great time.
“It was pretty incredible,” Vinton said. “I was blessing the people. I really wanted to bless them for real.”
Vinton said he tried to get into character.
“I was smiling a lot in the beginning, but then toward the middle, I kind of took the role more seriously,” Vinton said. “I was kind of praying for people.”
Like the real pope, Vinton’s posse of security guards, headed by senior Robert Storey, never left his side.
“We were protecting the pope. This was a life or death situation,” Storey said. “There were two serious attacks on his life. Both times the attackers were subdued.”
Freshman Abby Anderson said students seemed to enjoy the seminarians’ celebration.
“It’s just funny because now the answer to everything of what is going on is ‘the seminarians,’” Anderson said.
Even though the pope plays a serious role in the Roman Catholic Church, Vinton sees nothing wrong with a little celebration.
“People have an impression of the (Roman) Catholic Church being like a very strict like, ‘Oh, you’re not supposed to make fun of this,’” Vinton said. “We have a very deep affection for the pope and with that in mind. I think this is more than welcome.”
Stephanie Dodd, Alison Bengtson and Baihly Warfield contributed to this report.