Boston hero’s message for Pope Francis

Hub hero Carlos Arredondo — set to meet Pope Francis in the White House next week — said guardian angels watched over him in the frantic first minutes of the bombings at the Boston Marathon.

Sep 18, 2015

Boston Marathon blast hero Carlos Arredondo, with his wife, Melida, in front of Sacred Heart Church in Roslindale, holds the cross he hopes Pope Francis will bless and which he plans to give to the church.
BOSTON: Hub hero Carlos Arredondo — set to meet Pope Francis in the White House next week — said guardian angels watched over him in the frantic first minutes of the bombings at the Boston Marathon.

“It was really horrific, scary, dramatic. By the grace of God only three people died, but many angels came in many forms that day,” he said. “I was being guarded myself. I prayed to God I wouldn’t be hurt.

“I was ready. Only God knows why he put me in that spot,” he told the Herald yesterday as he ?recalled the moment he rushed into the carnage on Boylston Street. “I was trying to connect with God so I could continue to carry on. ... We all have that in us. It was just my moment in time.”

The 55-year-old native of Costa Rica, who lost two sons, one in the Iraq War and the other to suicide, said his faith has helped him get through every day.

“Faith has been in trouble,” he said. “We need to find ways to help others.”

It’s a message he wants to ?deliver to Pope Francis on Wednesday morning at the White House. The pope is set to be officially welcomed to the U.S. at 9:15 by President Obama.

Arredondo said if he is lucky enough to shake the pope’s hand, he will ask him to bless the silver and gold crucifix he carries with him daily.

“I want to thank the Holy ?Father for making a difference on so many issues. I will also make sure he will bless me and my community and all the families in Boston who could use it,” he said. “I will let the pope know how blessed I was being a father. Every moment with my boys was a blessing.

“If I get to touch his hand,” he added, “I will ask him to bless my cross that I carry with me and that I will then give it to my church, the Sacred Heart Church.”

Arredondo became a nationwide symbol of Boston Strong ?after he rescued Jeff Bauman, who lost both of his legs in the first blast near the finish line on April 15, 2013.

Bauman later wrote in his book, “Stronger,” that the scene was like “a cookout in hell.” Blood and body parts were strewn all over the sidewalk as the acrid smoke from the blast filled the air.

But that didn’t stop Arredondo.

“I prayed to God to protect me. Then another bomb went off down the street and I worried there would be a third bomb,” he said.

“You believe in guardian angels?looking after you, and that’s what happened that day,” he said. ?“Angels helped survivors. ... For the people who had the courage to go there that day, we were protected, too.”

The pastor of Sacred Heart in Roslindale, the Rev. Francis Kelley,?said last night he is proud of ?Arredondo’s invitation and his commitment to the church.

“He’s had a very difficult ?life,” Kelley said of his loyal ?parishioner.

“We’ll keep him in our prayers to help him out.”

Arredondo praised the pope for giving the world “hope on the horizon” with his work on standing up against ISIS, supporting migrants, reforming the Vatican, loosening the rules on annulment and divorce, allowing women to seek forgiveness for abortions and addressing climate change and human trafficking.

He said Americans are “blessed” they don’t live in Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq. He said “terrible demons” haunt those war-torn lands. The pope, he said, is leading the way to help those caught in that crossfire.

“I’m delighted with all the ?issues the pope” is addressing, he said.

Now this humble, reluctant hero who struggled with the loss of his sons and didn’t hesitate when the bombs went off downtown is having an audience with his champion.

“It’s been an amazing journey,” he said. “Not a day goes by that ?I don’t thank God for being alive.”--Boston Herald

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