ROME, ITALY (HawaiiNewsNow) - Saint Peter's Square is familiar ground for the Hansen's Disease patients from Hawaii who were at the Vatican just 3 years ago for the canonization of Father Damien.
Being there again doesn't take away at all from Mother Marianne, but a few of the patients say the excitement is still very real.
"I'm excited to see the Pope," said Ivy Kahiliwa.
"Especially from us from so far away, to see the Pope a second time, it's an honor," said Gloria Marks.
The second time around is even better for the nine returning Hansen's disease patients who made the return journey. Just 3 years later, they're back for another audience with the Pope and, once again, they have the best seats in the house.
"Front row seats in 2009 too," said Marks. "We're in the same place."
From Molokai we have 225 in our group.
The Hawaii delegation, led by Bishop Larry Silva, cheered as they were singled out while awaiting the pontiff's arrival.
Just a few short minutes later, Pope Benedict XVI made his grand entrance, driving right by the Hansen's patients before doing a full lap of the entire square, greeting all of the pilgrims and then making his way up to the altar.
Then it was time to deliver his weekly blessing and address.
After he wrapped things up, bishops lined up to meet and greet in person.
"It's just a real blessing that it's happening for Hawaii in such a short time and I have the privilege of being the Bishop for both," said Bishop Silva.
When the Pope exited, he passed the patients again, giving them a great chance for one more photo op.
As thoughts quickly shifted from the weekly address to the canonization, the big question on the minds of the pilgrims was whether or not the weather would hold up through the weekend. It was nice on Wednesday, but rain would move the event inside from the Square.
That's what happened with Father Damien.
The capacity inside is a third of what it is in the square, so there would more than a few disappointed pilgrims.