Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Police frisk nuns as security is stepped up for Pope's visit

A nun passes through a security checkpoint during preparations for Pope Benedict XVI visit to St Mary's University College, Twickenham, in south west London
Pope Benedict XVI greets a young child as he arrives for a celebration of Catholic education at St Mary's University College, Twickenham, in SW London
The papal chair at Bellahouston Park, Glasgow, where Pope Benedict XVI will preside over an open-air mass on the first day of his four-day visit to the United Kingdom

Police were frisking monks and nuns today as crowds turned out for the Pope's first public engagement on English soil.

The normally sedate west London suburb of Strawberry Hill near Twickenham was transformed into a riot of colour as thousands of schoolchildren and members of the clergy descended on the area.

Amid tight security, guests queued in a good-natured fashion in the early morning chill as they waited for the Pope to arrive at St Mary's University College, where he was to address thousands of children for an event celebrating Catholic education.

The streets surrounding the event were lit up with the white robes of monks and the chattering of excited schoolchildren.

But the huge security operation that a papal visit entails led to unusual scenes outside the college.

Streams of bemused nuns waited in long queues to go through security scanners.

Veils were inspected and rosary beads removed from handbags as they negotiated security.

One monk looked on incredulously as his crucifix was inspected while his habit was frisked by police.

But despite the indignity of the security searches, the air crackled with a sense of expectancy.

Organisers raced past the queues with trays laden with cakes and teacups while police joked with priests as they assembled in small groups.

Protesters outside the event seemed more concerned with the chilly weather than voicing their anger at the Pope's visit.

They chatted and stamped their feet as they stood opposite a long line of security fencing.

But their banners told of the protests to come: one read "Holy Joe Ratzinger" while another stated "From Hitler Youth to Papacy".

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