LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) —Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan recalled Wednesday his missed opportunity to meet Pope John Paul II, who will be canonized later this month.
While writing his memoirs, the lifelong Catholic, stumbled upon a photo that was taken in 1987 when the pope was visiting St. Vibiana’s Cathedral. The picture shows Riordan standing near a woman shaking hands with the man who will soon be a saint.
“If you look at the picture I’m mysteriously in the background, and she is taking the pope away from me,” he said. “I never got to shake his hand.”
Riordan said he never held any hard feelings towards the mystery woman, he just always wondered what that moment was like for her.
“He treated everybody he met as an equal, just a wonderful, wonderful man.”
Last week, Riordan posted the picture in his coffee shop, The Pastry, offering free breakfast to anyone who recognized the woman.
“A friend of mine called and said, ‘Robin, Robin they’re looking for you,’ and I said, ‘Who’s looking for me?'” West Covina resident Robin Kochis said.
The 55-year-old met with Riordan for breakfast Wednesday and told him about the moment she says changed her life.
“I still get emotional,” she said, “My eyes filled with tears, and he just smiled at me, and he blessed me. It was such a honor.”
Kochis went on to produce Christian music and continues to feel the pope is watching over her.
Riordan said hearing her story has helped him see his own experience that day with a new perspective.
“To have come face-to-face with somebody who is going to be a saint of the church, is one very few people in the world have that thrill,” he said.
The Catholic Church will hold a canonization mass on April 27 for Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII.