(Photo courtesy: MyMCMEDIA.org)
ROCKVILLE, Md. - He has adoring followers, a bodyguard and even has his own "Popemobile." But Maximiliano Hernandez is just four years old and he got to see what it was like to be pope for a day.
The pint-sized pope had to move his Popemobile by his feet, was escorted by childhood cardinals and was protected by a 6-year-old Secret Service agent.
In this papal parade, instead of kissing babies, the pope is barely a baby himself.
This was the scene Wednesday at St. Jude Regional Catholic School in Rockville. The school wanted to show the children what the pope does, so they did what Pope Francis did during his trip to Washington D.C. and put on their own papal parade.
Instead of Pennsylvania Avenue, this parade happened on the playground.
We caught up with his 4-year-old holiness, and as any pope would, he explained how he blessed the masses, showed love to the faithful, how he drove his Popemobile and even how he wore a crucifix.
Since he already knows the papal duties, would he ever want to be pope?
He nodded yes because in his words, “I like him.”
The young pope's Secret Service agent, Caleb Garcia, also explained his role to us as his parents explained it to him.
"They were like, ‘You can’t smile. We're going to put an earpiece on you. We're going to put glasses. We're going to put a blazer and stuff.’ And I’m like, ‘Okay.’"
"In the spirit, they understand the pope's message and his presence very well,” said Rev. Paul Lee, the pastor at St. Jude Regional Catholic School. “So it's kind of a reinforcement of what they are learning already."
“We wanted to kind of take it down to their level so they could understand and learn about Pope Francis,” said Maura Bayly, one of the teachers who came up with the idea.
"With the parade, we said, ‘Oh, wouldn’t it be cool to have a Popemobile,’ and somebody had mentioned using a wagon,” said teacher Eileen Guihen. "And we just said it would be cool to have a Little Tikes car and paint it white and make it look like the Popemobile with the Vatican flag.”
As for the 4-year-old pope, what does the real pope tell people to do?
“Be nice,” said young Maximiliano.