Calling it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, a group from Miami Shores set off Tuesday afternoon for a bus trip to Washington, D.C. ahead of Pope Francis' first ever visit to the United States.
The group departed early Tuesday from St. Martha's Catholic Church in Miami Shores. It's the second pilgrimage led by the Archdiocese of Miami, after a group of nearly 200 traveled to Cuba last week.
Mercy Rodriguez Allen told NBC 6 that she tried to visit the Pope several years ago while vacationing in Rome, but the Pope was also on vacation at that time. She says this time she will be there, rain or shine.
"I think he's really opened up the hearts to a lot of Cubans there," Allen told NBC 6 referencing Pope Francis' impact on the island nation.
"He's very very special," another traveler told NBC 6. "I've loved all of the Pope's, but I think this is who we needed at this time."
The group of roughly 50 will spend two full days in Washington, D.C. before returning to South Florida on Friday.