Pope Francis offered a special welcome to Siena College students on a class pilgrimage to the Vatican on Monday morning, the college highlighted.
During Monday's papal blessing and Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis offered a particular welcome to the students "from the Franciscan institution Siena College in New York."
Around 30 Siena students have been traveling in Italy since Dec. 27, making a final stop Monday at the Vatican before beginning their return trip home. The trip was focused on Franciscan leadership and traced the steps of the figures that Siena claims as its spiritual guides. The trip took students to Rome as well as Florence, Cortina, Assisi and the orginal Siena, a city in the country's central Tuscany region.
"We spent the last 10 days traveling throughout Italy on a pilgrimage, really connecting with the other students and getting great memories that will last all of us a lifetime," Siena student Emma Bidell, of Voorheesville, said of the trip as the students waited for their departing flight.
The pope's personal greeting came as a surprise to the Siena students, college officials said.
"Being in St. Peter's Square among tens of thousands of other people and hear Pope Francis actually mention us by name was exciting," Father Mark Reamer, Siena's vice president for missions and the leader of the student trip, said in a video provided by the college.
Video of Pope Francis' Angelus prayer, with Vatican Radio English translation, is available on the Vatican's YouTube channel and cued up just before the Siena welcome below: