Thursday, March 14, 2013


HELLO!!!  I AM SO EXCITED THAT I WANT TO TYPE EVERYTHING IN CAPITAL LETTERS BUT I REALIZE THAT IS ANNOYING SO I WILL STOP now.  But seriously, I am so excited!!!  We have a new pope!  And I was there!!!

The timing was divinely worked out; I couldn't have planned it better myself.   I mean, really, I was in Poland this morning and in Rome in St. Peter's square for the white smoke tonight!  Let me tell you how it all happened.

I left Poland this morning at 9:00am.  I landed in Rome around 11:00am, just about the time of the cardinals' second morning vote.  The plan was to have our driver change his course from the villa to St. Peter's if we heard there was white smoke while we were in the car.  So, we all waited.  The cab was practically silent, only an occasional anxious comment here and there, as our RD listened to the radio on her phone and relayed the information to us.  Suspense was in the air!  Finally, black smoke.  So, we went back to the villa to unpack from Poland and have some lunch before heading out to St. Peter's for the afternoon round of votes.

After lunch, my RD and one of my classmates and I went out early, planning to use the time before the voting to get some homework done in a library right by St. Peter's.  Well, it was a nice thought.  We were all so excited that we couldn't concentrate on homework; instead, we spent some time praying for the cardinals and the future pope among them in St. Peter's and drinking hot chocolate in the cafe of the library we had intended to study in.  A little after 5pm, we went out into St. Peter's square to begin the smoke watch.  It was cold and rainy.  The square was already crowded, filled with people waiting to see the smoke.  We prayed a rosary for the cardinals and the future pope.  Then, we waited, and waited, and waited some more.  6:10pm came around.  A church nearby St. Peter's had Mass at 6:30pm.  It was risky; we were nervous about missing the smoke and the new pope if we went, but we decided to go anyway.  Thank You, Jesus, for inspiring us to do so!  It could not have worked out more perfectly.

So, we went to Mass at 6:30pm.  Mass ended around 7:18pm.  As soon as we walked out of the church around 7:20pm, what did we hear?  Bells.  St. Peter's bells.  Now, the area we were in was not very crowded.  Corinne and Mary and I all look at each other, all of us asking the same question: Is that it?  Are those the bells?  Is there white smoke?  Do we have a Pope?!?  There was a lady next to us outside of the church talking on her phone.  Right as we were asking these questions, she was saying, "Habemus papam!!  Habemus papam!!!!!" which means, "We have a pope!  We have a pope!!!!!"

What did we do when we heard that?  We ran.  We RAN from where we were to St. Peter's square.  It didn't even take us five minutes, at least, it didn't feel like it did.  It was so dramatic.  We were running through the streets with cries of "Habemus papam!!!" and shouts of joy.  I had anticipated this moment so much!  I was so ready for it!  (The running was probably a good outlet for all of my anticipation; otherwise, I may have just exploded or who knows what...)  Anyway, when we were running, it was like everything was in slow motion.  We got to a point where there were barriers up.  The police were guarding them.  There was one barrier left unguarded; it was a now or never moment.  My RD jumped it first, I followed; my classmate behind me was the last one to get through before the guards stopped people from jumping over.  Her sleeves barely escaped his grasp!  Like I said, so dramatic!  So intense!!

I had a great spot in the square, right in the middle, right before the colonnades start.  I could see the window where the pope would appear for the first time as pope and I could see him when he did!  Since it was rainy, most people had umbrellas up, which greatly obstructed the view.  Once again, Divine Providence provided; the rain stopped right before the pope came out, so there were no umbrellas to obstruct anyone's view.  Thank you Jesus and Mary!  When the rain stopped, the sky cleared, the air was still, and we could see one star in the sky.  Perfect.  The whole world was ready to meet the new pope, and I could feel it!
I was right in the middle, in front of the window the pope came out at, about the same distance back as the screen you see here on the left

The cardinal came out and said the long awaited, much anticipated phrase, "Habemus papam."  I had only dreamed of hearing that in real life before this moment.  After the cardinal announced the name, nationality, and new name of the cardinal who had been elected, a giant game of Catholic telephone took place.  No one around me heard clearly what the cardinal had said due to the excitement in the square; all around me, people were trying to figure out which cardinal it was exactly, where he was from, and what name he chose.  Finally, after less than a minute, we had deduced that an Argentinian cardinal had been elected and that he had taken the name Papa Francesco, Pope Francis.

While we were waiting, we were able to pray for him more.  The time between being elected and making the first public appearance is usually a very difficult time for the new pope.  The weight of the responsibility is unimaginable.  The moment he came out, I could not contain my excitement and love.  I really couldn't (see pictures of facial expressions).  I cheered, laughed, prayed, sang, screamed, anything I could do to show my love for the new Pope Francis.  Oh my goodness, I get chills just thinking about it now!
This is how I remember him most from being there tonight; a simple wave, a slight smile.
His greeting was so simple, so humble, so beautiful.  He showed a lot of love to the city of Rome (as he is now also Bishop of Rome) and a great humility to the world when he asked everyone to pray a simple "Our Father," "Hail Mary," and "Glory Be," for him.  It was so exciting to be in the square when he gave his first blessing as pope, and a plenary indulgence!  Here is a translation of the message he gave to the world from St. Peter's square tonight.

After Pope Francis' address, my classmates and I sang, cheered, and moved out, practically carried by the huge mob.  We all celebrated with gelato, then came back to the villa, had a late dinner, then each went off to his or her way of sharing tonight's experience.  I called my family right away, then wrote this blog post.  I hope you enjoyed it!  I'm sorry it's so inadequate; these things simply cannot be conveyed through words alone!

P.S. I can't get my pictures to load right now, so the ones I have are borrowed.   I will put mine up ASAP!

And in case you were wondering, Polish pilgrimage posts will be coming soon!
I am legitimately falling asleep at my computer now; time for bed.

Pray for Pope Francis!!!  Our Father...Hail Mary...Glory Be....+JMJ+



    love the part about you jumping the barricade, you're so rad.

  2. Yeah, totes rad.

  3. Yayyyyy!!!!! I loved reading your post!! I'm glad you got this AHMAZING opportunity!! We miss you Erin, but we're glad you're having the time of your life! <3, Jensine and your Vessels sisters! :)

  4. You were so blessed to have witnessed this.