DENVER - The world viewed Pope Benedict XVI as the leader of more than a billion Catholics world-wide. He was regularly seen speaking to thousands in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican.
But Peter Srsich saw a different side of the pope.
When Peter was just 17 years old he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.
"He had a chest x-ray and it revealed a softball sized tumor in his chest," Laura Srsich, Peter's mother, said. "It was determined that it was stage four non-Hodgkin's lymphoma."
While doctors at Children's Hospital Colorado worked to save Peter's life, the Make-a-Wish Foundation granted him his wish.
"First thing Peter said, 'I'd love to go meet the Pope in Rome,'" Laura said.
Prior to being diagnosed Peter had been a very active and athletic student at Mullen High School. He was also a deeply faithful religious young man.
On a sunny day in May Peter got his chance to meet Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter's Square.
"When I got up to actually talk to him I was struck by how human he was," Peter said. "It was a humbling experience for me to see how humble he was."
Pope Benedict XVI listened as Peter told him about his journey with cancer. Peter presented the pope with a lime green wristband that had printed on it, "Praying for Peter." In return the pope offered a blessing for Peter.
"Then he blessed me. He put his hand right on my chest where the tumor had been. He didn't know where the tumor was, but he put his hand right there," Peter said.
Nearly a year later, Peter is now cancer free and a sophomore at Regis University. He is hoping one day to become an ordained priest.
Pope Benedict XVI surprised many when he announced his resignation, the first pope to do so since Pope Gregory XII in 1415.
Peter believes in doing so Pope Benedict XVI is humbly putting the Catholic Church ahead of his own needs. Something that Peter says is in character with the man he met.
"I'm going to remember him as one of the most humble people in the world, especially by this last act he is doing," Peter said.
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