Maple Heights man has special connection to Vatican, guarded future Pope in 1954

MAPLE HEIGHTS, Ohio - Pope Benedict XVI's retirement came as a surprise to many Catholics, including one northeast Ohio man with a special connection to the Vatican.

Ignatius Lovano of Maple Heights was a police officer in Italy in 1954, and was chosen to guard the future Pope John XXIII at a religious festival. Lovano remembers spending the entire day with him.

"He said to me, 'Are your legs made of steel?' because he saw me standing without movement," Lovano recalled. "I said 'Holy Father, I am only 24.'"

After he was elected Pope, Lovano sent a picture of that day to the Vatican. Pope John autographed the photo and sent it back to Lovano along with his papal photo and a note.

"He sent the blessing to me and my family," he said. "He was very happy to sign the picture for me."

Five decades later and Lovano still beams with pride when he speaks of the picture with Pope John. He displays the photo at the Northfield Plaza Barber Shop where, at age 83, he still cuts hair one day a week.

 

 

Print this article Back to Top

Comments

Related Stories

President Barack Obama tells Pope Francis he is a President Barack Obama tells Pope Francis he is a 'great admirer'

President Barack Obama called himself a "great admirer" of Pope Francis as he sat down at the Vatican Thursday.

Pope Pope's simple style influences cardinal fashion

Pope Francis' pared down papal wardrobe of sensible black shoes and a white cassock so thin you can see his black trousers.

Vatican surveys find majority of Catholics reject sex rules Vatican surveys find majority of Catholics reject sex rules

New surveys commissioned by the Vatican show that the vast majority of Catholics in Germany and Switzerland reject church teaching on contraception, sexual morality, gay unions and divorce, findings remarkable both in their similarity and in the fact that they were even publicized.

Seagull and crow attack peace doves freed from Pope Francis Seagull and crow attack peace doves freed from Pope Francis' window

Two white doves that were released by children standing alongside Pope Francis as a peace gesture have been attacked by other birds.

Pope defrocks 400 priests in 2 years Pope defrocks 400 priests in 2 years

A document obtained by The Associated Press on Friday shows Pope Benedict XVI defrocked nearly 400 priests over just two years for molesting children.

Benedict XVI returns to Vatican for first time, greeted by Pope Francis Benedict XVI returns to Vatican for first time, greeted by Pope Francis

Benedict XVI has returned to the Vatican for the first time since he resigned Feb. 28 and met with successor Pope Francis.

New style of papacy: Pope Francis pays hotel bill New style of papacy: Pope Francis pays hotel bill

Pope Francis put his humility on display during his first day as pontiff Thursday, stopping by his hotel to pick up his luggage and pay the bill himself.

Cleveland Bishop Richard Lennon, others react to election of Pope Francis I Cleveland Bishop Richard Lennon, others react to election of Pope Francis I

Cleveland Bishop Richard Lennon and other area leaders react to the election of Pope Francis I.

Argentine Catholics overjoyed at 1st Latam pope Argentine Catholics overjoyed at 1st Latam pope

Latin Americans are reacting with joy to news of the first pope from the hemisphere, bursting into tears and cheers.

Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio: Francis is first pope from the Americas Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio: Francis is first pope from the Americas

Pope Francis is the first ever from the Americas, an austere Jesuit intellectual who modernized Argentina's conservative Catholic church.