A Memorable Visit With The Pope

Pope John Paul II wrapped up his final day in St. Louis Wednesday by delivering mass to 100,000 faithful. But one of the biggest highlights of his trip was a youth prayer service attended by 21,000 children.

Six patients from the SSM Cardinal Glenn Children's Hospital in St. Louis were among those who met the pope at the Tuesday night rally. Fifteen-year-old Erin Oberhaus of Cape Girardeau, Mo., was one of them.

She is battling Lupus and a related kidney disease, and must endure weekly chemotherapy sessions. CBS News This Morning Co-anchor Thalia Assuras spoke with Erin, who said meeting the pontiff was an experience she would never forget.

Erin Oberhaus (CBS)
"It was amazing. I was overjoyed," she said.

When the pope blessed her, she was overwhelmed.

"I was speechless," Erin said. "I couldn't get any words out. I was bawling, I was crying so hard. I was so emotional."

Initially, Erin had been told only that she would attend the prayer service; meeting the pontiff came as a surprise to her. Erin said that when her mother gave her the news, she "literally screamed."

"I was so happy," Erin recalled. "I jumped around. I couldn't believe it. I was really concerned about what I was going to wear. What do you wear to meet the Pope?"

When the time came for her to be presented to the pontiff, the teen-ager said she couldn't believe she was "standing here in front of Pope John Paul II."

That's when he hugged her.

"It was so wonderful, so special and because I am Catholic it was particularly meaningful," she said.

When asked how she thought meeting Pope John Paul II might change her life, Erin showed wisdom beyond her years.

"I don't think it will do anything physically or has done anything physically," she said, referring to her illness. "It will definitely do something mentally. It definitely has healing powers. If I find myself giving up hope, this gives me something to believe in."