The faithful come out in droves to get a glimpse of Pope Francis

WASHINGTON - Thousands of people -- who came from all over -- lined the streets of Washington on Wednesday just hoping for a glimpse of Pope Francis.

"It was awesome. My heart is still beating from seeing the pope!," one woman, Margie Goodman, told CBS News.

Margie Goodman
CBS News

Many people waited for hours. Theresa Martinez told CBS News she camped out overnight. Milton Leon and his family got in line at 1 a.m. for a spot in the front.

"I saw him very well. I was yelling, 'Francesco! Francesco!," Leon said.

Leon's wife, Janneth, cried.

"You cannot explain what happens when someone very holy coming to you. My whole body was shaking and my heart was going up," she said.

For all the security and pageantry -- it was a day when Francis touched the people.

Seventeen year old Christian Esherick waited in line hoping to share his family's Christmas card -- with a picture of his older brother, Andrew. He passed away five months ago.

Pope Francis gave his blessing.

"He just gave that almost fatherly look, that he really cared about each and every individual," Esherick told CBS News. "It was possibly the best moment of my whole life."

Making his way through the crowds, the pope's focus was the children. Even the youngest connected with the 78 year old -- and when given a chance, had to take a selfie. Or in the case of 11 year old Water Cunningham, a shaky video on his cell phone he can't wait to share with friends.

"I am going to tell them I saw the pope and they should have been here," Cunningham said.

The thing that characterizes the whole day is joy and every time he comes and goes from the Vatican Embassy, he greets another group of ecstatic school children.

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    Jan Crawford is CBS News Chief Political and Legal Correspondent. She is from "Crossroads," Alabama.