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A YOUNG Catholic who received a personal blessing from the Pope during his visit to the UK said it has given her renewed hope and faith.
Alice O'Neill, from Westbury-on- Trym, was among more than 3,500 Bristolians who visited London and Birmingham over the weekend hoping to get a glimpse of the Holy Father during his four-day trip.
Among them was TV presenter Sherrie Eugene-Hart, who led prayers in front of 80,000 people and described the event as like "being backstage at a Michael Jackson concert".
When she kneeled at his feet, Pope Benedict XVI took her hand and gave her a blessing.
Miss O'Neill said: "I can't describe how amazing a moment it was.
"I was right next to him and he gave me a blessing. It was mesmeric, just so profound.
"He is such a gentle man. He sometimes seems stern when you are far off and from the things he says, but his messages are so hopeful.
"But if there had any danger of me drifting away from the church there isn't any more. It has really confirmed my faith."
Thousands of tickets remain unsold for events during the visit of the Pope, who arrives in Scotland on Thursday.
The largest organised event is an open-air Mass at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow on the opening day of Pope Benedict XVI's trip to the UK.
The capacity has been reduced to 80,000 after a slow take-up of tickets.