Sri Chinmoy's reminiscences of his interview with Pope Paul VI, the Vatican, 27 June 1973.
Four men carried the Pope into the auditorium on an ornate red velvet-covered chair. Then he sat on his throne and gave a talk, flanked by several cardinals. There were over 8,000 people in the hall. Instructions were read out to the crowd by the Cardinals in English, French, German and Spanish.
Then, before the Pope was put back into the chair, he came over to about sixty persons to whom he gave personal attention, the time he spent with each ranging from one second to about three minutes. I believe I am one of the few (two or three) who got three minutes.
Many large delegations had come from all over the United States and from countries of Europe other than Italy. (Italians were not allowed in this particular audience). As each group was announced, they applauded the Pontiff very enthusiastically. He in turn greeted them with a smile. There were about fifty rows on each side and I was fortunate enough to be in the first seat in the front row.
The Pope kindly came near me with a broad smile. He recognised me immediately, even though the American Cardinal introduced me, saying to the Pope, "Sri Chinmoy of the United Nations."
I said to the Pope, "I am most grateful to you for granting me the opportunity to be in your holy presence for the second time. Like last year, this year also I have come for your blessing." The Holy Father gave me a blessingful smile.
I presented him with some of my books. He said to me, "Last year I promised you that I would read your books. I read them. I deeply enjoyed them. I want to tell you that I am truly proud of your service to the United Nations. You are an Indian. I am also proud of your country."
Then he stretched out his hands. One of his attendants gave him a medallion. The Pope presented me with the medallion and said, "I give you this as a token of my love for you." During the conversation we faced each other with folded hands. I saw in him a soul's smile which was at once psychic, pensive and tinged with a subtle sadness.