Ever since the start of the Conclave (which literally means “with key”), we were all on our toes waiting for the white smoke to rise. All our plans (classes, meals, meetings, etc.) had to be tentative because we had to be ready to run to the square at a moment’s notice to meet our new Holy Father.
Since we are studying at a Pontifical University, everyone in the entire school, students and professors alike wanted to attend all the conclave events, so it was very easy to attend them all. The theme of the trip for our group has been “Perfect Timing.” Now, granted, everything happens in God’s perfect timing, but in some cases it is easier to see than others. This semester, it has been loud and clear.
1. We were able to get into the Scavi and Catacomb tours right away, when usually it takes weeks if not months to get tickets for the tour. This allowed us to learn about, get a feel for, and fall in love with the Papacy right away.
2. Pope Benedict’s resignation. We didn’t get too comfortable with Papal events or Pope Benedict. We were all caught off guard for sure, but we are all confident the fact that the resignation and Conclave happened while our specific group is studying here was planned by God from the beginning of time. Weird, eh?
3. Pope Benedict’s last public Mass fell on Ash Wednesday. This meant we were able to see him and it, and we already had tickets. His last audience fell on my birthday. Awesome.
4. Every semester, the Chaplin Fr. Corolla takes the students on a Silent Retreat on the same lake as Castel Gandolpho. This semester the retreat fell just after Pope Benedict emeritus moved there, so we were able to be there while he was there, and join our prayers to his, and pray especially for him.
5. We usually have Community Nights on Wednesdays, so changing our night so that we could all be in the square to see the smoke go up was not a problem. Little did we know, the Lord would bless us with the opportunity to see the white smoke go up, and meet our new Holy Father with all of our fellow classmates. It was unforgettable that’s for sure.
6. A group of us bought tickets to see Mumford and Sons in Florence on March 15 before we even got to Rome. We would have bought the tickets to see them in Rome on March 16, but they were sold out. Little did we know our Art History professor had planned a field trip to Bologna for March 16-17. Had we bought the Rome tickets for the 16th, we would not have been able to attend. Wabam.
Supes cray, right? Maybe you don’t think so, but we sure do. And there are plenty more examples of this, but I won’t bore you anymore in this post.
So, we were in the square when the white smoke finally went up. The cheers and excitement was unbelievable. Our professor this semester has two girls ages 9 and 6 and I spent the evening in the square with them. It was such a gift to witness these girls’ childlike faith and excitement at a new Holy Father. I got to carry Hannah, the younger one, on my shoulder the whole night so that she could see what was going on in the massive crowd. It was raining the whole evening so everyone had their umbrellas up, less than ideal, but the Lord pulled through yet again, and the rain stopped as they were announcing our dear Papa Francesco.
Wonder what it was like to be present for such momentousness news? See for yourself…