Archbishop of Hartford to Visit Pope in Philadelphia

At this time next week, Pope Francis will be in the middle of his first visit to the United States, joined in Philadelphia by the Archbishop of Hartford.

The Most Reverend Leonard P. Blair sat down with NBC Connecticut's Keisha Grant for an exclusive sit-down interview Friday night to share how the pope helped him find his way to Hartford.

Blair has led a life of faith and service to the Catholic Church, but said he'll never forget the phone call from a papal ambassador that put him face to face with Pope Francis.

"He told me, 'The Holy Father Pope Francis has appointed you Archbishop of Hartford,'" Blair recalled. "So the next day, I was at an audience with the Pope."

Some 250 congregants in the Archdiocese will join Blair next week in making a pilgrimage to Philadelphia to see the pope. Blair said he hopes Francis' visit will strengthen the lives of people of all faiths.

"Hopefully, most importantly, they'll take something from it that helps them to live their daily lives with greater faith, hope and love," he said.

Blair will likely find himself again in the presence of the pope, and if he does, there's one thing he won't do.

"I won't ask the pope for a selfie," he laughed, "because I don't know how that would be received."

Blair plans to keep an online travel log that will allow people here in Connecticut to follow his journey next week. You'll be able to follow along here.

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