What Would You Ask Pope Francis For? | NBC 10 Philadelphia
Pope Francis in Philly

Pope Francis in Philly

Look Back at the Pontiff's Historic Visit

What Would You Ask Pope Francis For?

Follow NBC10 reporter Morgan Zalot as she moves around the city today. Two days before Pope Francis arrives, Center City feels -- and looks -- like a different place.

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    Morgan Zalot
    (From left) Megan McGee, Theresa Johnson, Melissa Natale (second from right) and Barbara McGee visit the Cathedral Basilica of Ss. Peter and Paul on Thursday, along with Natale's daughters and their friend. The women are lifelong friends and have tickets to attend the papal events this weekend when Pope Francis is in Philadelphia.

    4:51 p.m. -- The Apple store at Walnut and 16th was relatively quiet. No one camping out in the pope zone for the new iPhone.
    Photo credit: Morgan Zalot

    4:30 p.m. Jumbotron test. 40 jumbotrons will stretch from Independence Hall, down the Parkway over to Eakins Oval where.
    Photo credit: Morgan Zalot

    At Con Murphy's bar on the Parkway, owner Liam Kelly said business has been slow this week, but he and his staff are prepared for a crush of customers over the weekend as hotels fill up and people pack the area for Pope Francis' visit.
    Photo credit: Morgan Zalot

    Tom Krimm, a bartender at Mace's Crossing on the Parkway, also tended bar at a Parkway pub during Pope John Paul II's visit in 1979. Mace's Crossing employees said business has been good this week, but Krimm said it doesn't compare to the last papal visit.
    Photo credit: Morgan Zalot

    12:01 p.m. -- What Would You Ask Pope Francis For?

    If Melissa Natale could ask Pope Francis for anything, it would be peace for people battling addiction and cancer.

    "There's a lot of addiction in my family and cancer in my family," Natale said outside the Cathedral Basilica of Ss. Peter and Paul on Thursday morning. "I would ask for peace for those people ... anybody who's struggling with any kind of inner demon that hopefully they can overcome it and find peace."

    Natale, of South Philadelphia, got together with two of her childhood friends to visit their alma mater, St. Maria Goretti High School (now Neumann-Goretti) in South Philly, and to make a special visit to the Cathedral ahead of the Pope's visit. She and her friends will also be attending Saturday's Festival of Families and Pope Francis' Mass on the Parkway on Sunday.

    For Theresa Johnson, one of the three friends, the request from Pope Francis would be a cure for cancer, she said.

    "Is thank him for being a Pope for the people," Johnson added.

    Next to Johnson and Natale were Megan McGee and her mom, Barbara McGee. Barbara said it means a lot to her to see her daughter and her daughter's childhood friends keeping up with the Catholic faith in which they were raised in South Philly.

    Barbara would have a tall order for Pope Francis if she could ask for anything, she said.

    "Just for world peace," she said. "There's so much conflict, it's so sad. So many homeless, so many people without limbs, so many soldiers coming home. Just make it a better place."

    11:29 a.m. -- Pope Merchandise

    It turns out that Pope Francis bobbleheads are the souvenir to have ahead of the pontiff's visit to Philadelphia this weekend.

    11:29 a.m. -- These Pope Francis dolls are for sale at a souvenir stand set up across the street from the Cathedral Basilica of Ss. Peter and Paul. The stand sold out of pope Francis bobbleheads and rosaries.
    Photo credit: Morgan Zalot

    A Center City merchant said in the last three days, the bobbleheads have been flying off the shelves at a souvenir stand set up by the Logan Square Cafe, at 18th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway across the street from the Cathedral Basilica of Ss. Peter and Paul. An employee estimated that she's sold at least 200 of the bobbleheads in three days. They go for $27 a pop at this stand -- and they're expecting to get a few more to sell.

    The stand also sold out of rosaries, the employee said. But Pope Francis stuffed dolls are still available. Those go for $20 plus tax.

    Bob Schumann, 72, of Philadelphia's Bridesburg section, is a proud owner of one of the bobbleheads.

    "I wanted something. I go to church every morning," Schumann said. "I have my own altar upstairs ... in my house."

    Schumann said he'll be here on the Parkway to see Pope Francis this weekend, just as he was in 1979 when then-Pope John Paul II visited the city.

    Photo credit: Morgan Zalot

    Photo credit: Morgan Zalot

    Pope Preps at East Eakins Oval & The ParkwayPope Preps at East Eakins Oval & The Parkway9:49 a.m. -- Mic check at East Eakins Oval, just in front of the World Meeting of Families arch. This is the scene at East Eakins Oval and the Parkway...very busy setting up. (Published Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015)

    School children's artwork graces unused traffic signals at East Eakins Oval and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, as crews work on building temporary structures in the background.
    Photo credit: Morgan Zalot

    This is artwork by students from Maternity BVM school in Northeast Philly. It's hanging over a traffic signal at 22nd and the Parkway. Only one I was able to snap there before a security guard started to give me a hard time for being on the sidewalk.
    Photo credit: Morgan Zalot

    9:42 a.m. -- Preparations are continuing Thursday morning as Pope Francis' much-anticipated visit grows closer. Workers buzzed about before 10 a.m., working on a temporary stage and other structures, as security guards diverted what light foot traffic there was in the area north on 23rd Street from Benjamin Franklin Parkway's westbound outer lanes.