They leaned on a building and caught their breath, their faces wearing tranquil expressions, their t-shirts saying "I Was There."
Just minutes earlier, the young family of three had seen the Pope. Front row, so to speak, along a Parkway curb. The Popemobile right before their eyes, Pope Francis aglow in white as he whizzed by the people without tickets but with deep patience.
Only 9 years old, Jennifer Sanchez felt a full adult thrill. Her mother and father were by her side, they had driven up from Baltimore, and there he was -- their man of faith.
"I was in a dream," the girl said. "I've never seen him before. Just on TV. I just got shocked for a moment."
Her mother, Flor Sanchez, 29, and father, Manuel Cortez, 28, were happy, too. This was quite a world away from daddy's job delivering hay for a farm in Carroll County, Md. Mom and dad barely speak English -- Jennifer does the talking for them. An immigrant story. Mexico. But they needed no words to feel the pope, to get what they came for. What they walked 20 long city blocks to see and feel.
"I felt a lot of emotion in my heart," said Flor Sanchez, her Spanish barely a whisper. "A feeling of purity. Something inexplicable."