Red Bank 9/11 widow met Pope Francis

Andrew Ford Asbury Park Press

Fourteen years after her husband, David, was killed on the 105th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center, Virginia Bauer found comfort in the tender eyes of Pope Francis.

The 59-year-old Red Bank woman and her son, Stephen, were among a group of people affected by the September 11, 2001 attacks who met the Pope Friday morning.

Photo: Jin Lee / Pool, EPA

Photo: Jin Lee / Pool, EPA

“He didn’t seem interested in meeting politicians and dignitaries,” she said. “He was polite, but he seemed most interested in giving us some solace at the museum.”

At the entrance to the museum, they were arranged alphabetically. Thanks to her last name, Bauer was first in line.

Francis was without his signature smile. He was solemn.

“I think he felt sorrow for us being there,” she said. “I think he understood the impact of what happened to our families and what happened to our country during the attack.”

He gave them hope.

“When you speak with him, he looks you in the eye, he seems genuinely interested in hearing from you,” she said.

He’s approachable, she said; she felt comfortable touching his hands and arm.

“I just told him how, as a practicing Catholic, how proud I was he was the leader of our church and I felt he was setting such a wonderful example,” she said, saying that she spoke to the Pope through a translator. “And he was giving our church and our country so much hope.”

That’s what she was willing to share of her moment with the Pope; the rest she preferred to keep private.

He blessed her and her son, and they went down into the museum for an interfaith service.

Bauer is on the 9/11 Memorial and Museum Board. She’s met presidents and other dignitaries. She’s been in the audience for a Pope Benedict appearance.

This was different.

“I think Pope Francis is much more approachable and I think he’s made a greater impact on the church,” she said. “And really, in the world.”

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