But after all the pomp and circumstance, the iconic images that stuck with us were the smaller moments — those brief points of connection when the pope interacted one-on-one with members of his flock. Here are five particular moments we’ll remember from the papal visit.
1. Pope, meet baby pope. The pope kissed quite a few babies during his trip, but this one stood out for creative costuming. The real pope laughed when he saw baby Quinn Madden dressed as a pope after a security agent brought her to the pope so he could kiss her.
2. Pope Francis’s blessing for a boy with cerebral palsy. The blessing for 10-year-old Michael Keating was one of Francis’s first actions upon arriving in Philadelphia. “I had to turn away. It was just overwhelming,” Michael’s father said.
3. The pope’s outreach to prisoners. Speaking to 95 imprisoned men and women in Philadelphia, Francis said, “All of us have something we need to be cleansed of, or purified from.”
4. The family that drove all the way from Argentina to see Francis — and got to meet him. “You are crazy,” the pope told the family when he heard they traveled 13,000 miles in a VW bus.
5. The 5-year-old girl who got past security to give a letter to the pope. An immigration group planned to get Sophie Cruz as close to the pope as possible during a parade in Washington. Sophie said she was brave enough: “God made me like that.”
Honorable mentions: The pope’s entourage deserves a shout-out, too. The Fiat he rode around in attracted so much attention that Fiat dealers are pumped about the advertising. Plus, the Internet seemed to agree that his ever-present interpreter, Monsignor Mark Miles, was pretty dreamy. The whirlwind trip was packed with images to remember.