WHEN Claire Hill from Culburra Beach was blessed by the Pope, she couldn’t imagine it would one day save her life.
Claire was 12 months old, a little red bundle in her father’s arms, watching Pope Benedict’s World Youth Day procession at Randwick among a crowd of thousands. Her jacket caught the Pope’s eye, and the cavalcade was halted for Claire to be passed through the Popemobile window and kissed by the pontiff.
Two and a half years later, she was trapped under the rear wheel of a three-tonne bus at a Nowra service station and no one expected her to survive.
‘‘The ambulances came really slow because they thought there was no chance,’’ Claire’s mother Sue Hill said.
‘‘Then someone said to me, ‘She’s been blessed by the Pope, she’ll make it’ and that gave me some comfort.’’
Claire was rushed to Sydney by ambulance, but was released from hospital several days later with only grazes and minor bruising.
The Pope’s blessing was the third in Claire’s short life. Sydney Cardinal George Pell and the family’s local priest blessed Mrs Hill while she was pregnant with Claire.
Mrs Hill said her family loved Pope Benedict like a grandfather and they were sad to see him go.
‘‘We’ll miss him, but I’m sure he’s doing what’s best,’’ she said. ‘‘He’s a humble, very holy man who gives himself for others.’’