‘Divine intervention’: Faithful whose parish closed now get to see Pope Francis

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MANHATTAN — Talk about divine intervention: Claudio Marte and Mercedes Sanchez are counting their blessings after winning the extremely rare tickets to Friday's Papal Mass at Madison Square Garden.

Just 20,000 tickets were available and the Archdiocese of New York distributed the passes to local parishes which then held a lottery for those who wanted a chance to see the pontiff.

Sanchez has her family to thank for the big win.

"My mom was at Mass and she asked my cousin to sign me up, because I was in Ithaca for a wedding," Sanchez said.

Thanks to good ol' mom for entering her, this loving daughter may give up her ticket to the true winner.

"I'm considering giving the ticket to my mother," Sanchez said.

Claudio Marte gets to witness history with his daughter. He was lucky enough to win two tickets. His daughter is currently in Italy and is heading back to the U.S. to attend the Mass.

"It's a very special moment to go together with my daughter," Marte said.

These two friends and winners are counting their blessings after a very difficult summer. They were parishioners at the Church of the Nativity on the Lower East Side which closed in August against the will of the parish.

"It makes me think, was God agreeing with us about fighting against the church closings?" Sanchez wondered.

These two should consider playing the lottery since they have extremely good luck. This will be each of their second times meeting a pope.

Marte attended the Papal Mass at Yankee Stadium in 2008 with Pope Benedict XVI, while Sanchez witnessed Pope John Paul II in Central Park in 1995.

"There is some kind of message that will be said that day," Sanchez said. "I'm looking forward to hearing what that is, especially after this tough year."