An audience with the Pope

Published 9:58 pm Monday, January 26, 2015

When James Madison University’s marching band traveled to Rome at the end of 2014, the white feathers in their hats stood out in a sea of humanity gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the New Year’s Day Parade.

It’s plain to see in a photo sent by Stuart Brazil, a Nansemond-Suffolk Academy graduate who along with two others from Suffolk — John Wade, also an NSA alumnus, and Spencer Jefferson, who attended King’s Fork High School — traveled and performed with the Dukes.

They were the only college marching band, according to Brazil, and an elliptical circle of feathers hovers in the photo’s top center-right.

Email newsletter signup

Our story on the Suffolk trio, which ran in Sunday’s newspaper, was posted on shortly before 8 p.m. on Saturday.

About an hour and half later, a Suffolk News-Herald tweet linking to the story was favorited by a “Cardinal Giuseppe, personal assistant to Pope Francis.”

Maybe the vision of those white features reached even farther than we may have suspected?

Was the Tweet actually favorited by the cardinal? Perhaps after he leaned over with his iPhone and showed the story to the Pope?

Cardinal Giuseppe@VaticanValet seems like a guy who enjoys life and likes a joke. “I’m going to get myself a dancer wife. #justsaying #breakingpointe #dancers”

In addition to the CW television show about professional ballet dancers, he’s apparently a fan of the British television franchise TopGear. Among his tweets about that show: “Driving with a full tray of food. That is intense,” and “I still have a Buick. I’m gonna bust it out of the garage.”

I’m going to err on the side of caution and take the whole thing with a few grains of salt. Twitter and other social media are, after all, readily available to all kinds of imposters with too much time on their hands.

But you never know. Reading a few more of his Tweets, the “Vatican Valet” seems a bit too fun-loving for the real deal. But maybe it’s part of a Vatican public relations campaign.

After we ran the JMU story, Spencer Jefferson emailed some details on his time in Italy. It was his first time in Europe, and he said the highlight — other than playing in the Vatican — was the history.

“Learning about the noble families, Italy’s early years and the way ancient things are preserved in a modern area” were also highlights, he stated.

Spencer said he went to many museums and cathedrals with his mom and friends, and toured Florence, the Coliseum and the Roman Forum.

“We went to some nice restaurants and had gelato in each city we visited,” according to Spencer.

But was the real highlight having the Pope and his valet reading about his Rome experience in his hometown newspaper?

Hmmm …