.- A woman who helped cook for the Pope during his visit to Spain in 2011 said the Holy Father looked at those who prepared his meal the way that she looks at her children.
During Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Madrid for World Youth Day, a group of teachers from the Fuenllana School prepared lunch for him.
Diana Cabrera, a mother of three, teacher and host of a cooking show on Spanish television, was among those who helped cook for the Holy Father at the request of Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela of Madrid.
Cabrera affectionately recalls the encounter with the Pope and said that what most impressed her was “how detached and humble he was, always attentive to others, looking at them in the same way that I look at my children.”
“He was continuously observing and attentive to all the details and all the people that were around him,” she explained in a press release from the education center. “I saw that he cared for them, he seemed to rise above to the spiritual level of those who were around him and those of us who were serving him.”
“I could tell by how he looked that he realized how excited we were to be working for him,” she continued. “I was amazed that despite the fatigue and the hot temperatures that day in Madrid, (the Pope) was attentive to others.”
Cabrera described the Holy Father as “the most important person I have ever served” and said that to see him was to “see a very spiritual person” who was filled with immense peace.
She explained that the spirituality, joy and humility the Pope conveyed “both with his presence and with his gaze” impressed her greatly.
Although she was initially very nervous about the lunch, Cabrera recalled that once Pope Benedict arrived, her “nerves were gone, because he conveyed such peace that he made you feel like you were with someone from your family.”
After lunch, the Pope “unexpectedly got up and came towards us and told us in Italian: ‘That was the best meal of my life, the food was so beautifully prepared, and that beauty leads to God,’” she said.
The menu that day featured salmorejo (a Spanish soup made with olive oil, vinegar and tomatoes), veal with vegetables and a dessert of lemon sorbet and jello.
The director of communications at Fuenllana, Carmen Calvo, told CNA on Feb.15 that wine was offered to the Holy Father, but he declined and preferred to drink orange juice. He asked for a copy of the menu to have as a memento, Calvo said.
All of the items used to prepare the lunch were donated by supporters of the school, and nearly 40 volunteers - including cooks and waiters - served the Pope and his entourage of approximately 60 people.
The school’s principal gave the Holy Father a donation of nearly $6000 to help pay the expenses of a new vocation to the seminary resulting from World Youth Day 2011. She also gave him a photo album about the school and a small statue of Our Lady of Fuenllana.
Cabrera said that after the experience, “I resolved to spread that joy and happiness that I saw in the Holy Father to those around me, and I know as a Catholic that that is precisely what our faith teaches.”