By Mark Abrams

ROME, Italy (CBS) — The Philadelphia delegation that went to Rome this week with a mission to convince Pope Francis to visit Philadelphia for a World Families Conference in the fall of 2015 is ecstatic after their face-to-face meeting with the pontiff in front of 100,000 pilgrims today on St. Peter’s Square.

It was supposed to be a private meeting, but it became very public last night as Pope Francis decided he wanted to receive the high-level delegation during his weekly public audience today (see related story).

Gov. Tom Corbett says meeting with the pope was exhilarating, and he is confident their six-minute interaction will pay big dividends.

“We got a lot of very good smiles from him,” Corbett said afterward.  “His English is much better, probably, than my Spanish.  But he likes Philadelphia. He smiled about Philadelphia.  And I feel — and the mayor feels — very, very optimistic that we’ll see him in September of 2015.”

Mayor Michael Nutter says the papal team from Philadelphia is overwhelmed by a great sense of joy and appreciation.

“This was a tremendously successful mission and visit to the Vatican, and it could not have gone better,” Nutter said.

The delegation returns to Philadelphia tomorrow afternoon, hours after the pope meets one-on-one with President Obama, who is expected to offer a formal invitation to him to visit the US next year.

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