Girl in iconic pope photo recalls moment

Think about all the great moments we have seen over the years at the world's most famous arena -- Madison Square Garden. Pope John Paul II's visit is one of the garden's truly defining moments. That visit is a day that many will never forget, including some people from our area I recently had a chance to catch up with.


George Fehling was just 17 years old and a senior at Monsignor Ferrel High School on Staten Island when he was chosen to narrate "Youth in Concert," the title given to the pope's visit to Madison Square Garden in October 1979. George jumped the gun and introduced the pope a little earlier then he should have, but that just helped build the anticipation.

This was Pope John Paul II's first trip to America and only the second time a pope had visited the United States. And what an impact it had. Maybe the moment or image that best sums up his time during his stay: the iconic picture of his holiness holding the little 6 year old girl, Geralyn Smith, atop the Popemobile at the world most famous arena. Recently Geralyn recalled that day and that exact moment for Fox 5.

20,000-plus people, including the man that took that iconic picture that still resides in Madison Square Garden's Defining Moments exhibit. In a matter of days that picture literally went worldwide. And remember, this was 1979 -- years before the Internet and social media. It touched so many people including the pope who kept that picture on his desk until he died.

Fast forward to 1995 when the pope visited New York and said mass in Central Park. Geralyn was asked to be part of the procession that brought up the gifts. She and p Pope John Paul II met again.