Habemus Papam – What a Day that Was!

Over at The Last Papist Standing, we are reminded that today is the sixth anniversary of the election of our dearly beloved Pope Benedict XVI:

And what a day that was! I remember it well. I was living in Rome at the time, finishing my studies at the Angelicum. It was a Saturday morning, and I decided to walk down to Saint Peter’s Square. When I asked my Sisters if any of them wanted to come, they all declined thinking that it was too early in the election process for the conclave to come to a decision.

Just as I entered the square a group of teenage boys were exiting the columns, jumping up and down, yelling, “Abbiamo Papa! Abbiamo Papa!”  We have a Pope! We have a Pope!” I quickly entered the square which was still pretty empty, and saw the last of the smoke coming out of the temporary chimney to the Sistine Chapel, where the Conclave is held. I remember speculating with others waiting who they thought it would be. Many believed it would be Cardinal Ratzinger.

The square filled quickly, and the atmosphere was joyful, as though Christmas had come early, yet there was more. I ended up standing between two very different men. One was a Jew. The other was a Muslim. They came because they knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime event, and they wanted to be a part of it. We were part of that crowd in the video, exclaiming joyfully together the good news that a Pope has been chosen. When the name of Cardinal Ratzinger was announced, these two men, along with most of the crowd, started jumping up and down, yelling, “We have a Pope! We have a Pope!” I asked them both, “Wait. You’re a Jew. You’re a Muslim.” but they both replied, “Today, it doesn’t matter. We have a Pope!”

It was truly a moment where all of Rome was united in a way that I’ve never known before, or have experienced again. But a day is yet to come, when we will put all else aside, and proclaim together “We have the same Lord.” This is the hope I carry in my heart every day. It will be in Christ, our true unity will come.
___
Related:
Creative Minority Report recalls Habemus Papam Punk!

6 thoughts on “Habemus Papam – What a Day that Was!

  1. Sr. Lisa,
    Thank you for sharing this memory. I feel present with you, reliving it, as I read your words. It takes me to my own experience…. I spent my fall semester, junior year of college in Rome, at Loyola University. On my 21st birthday, I attended mass with the Pope John Paul, II. My parents have a letter from me written that day that makes all of us laugh and marvel at life. Ah, the proximity to holy and divinely appointed experiences!
    I am with you in your prayers for unity this world over. Peace. Blessings! Happy Holy Week!

  2. I shared your joy, albeit thousands of miles away watching it on TV. I wanted Ratzinger to be elected, but thought the odds were so slim, and to hear his name and see him walk out re-affirmed my faith that God IS indeed in control of things. I yelled so loud that I scared my oldest daughter.

    • Thanks, Robert, for your post that reminded me of that fine spring day six years ago. I had a great day reminiscing the providence of our dear Lord in giving us a ‘German Shepherd’! God bless!

  3. Sister, great anecdote; thanks for sharing. I was on a flight to San Francisco, and the pilot announced the name of our new pope when we landed. It was amazing to see all the smiles from the passengers; several asked several times, surprised that Cardinal Ratzinger had been selected given the opposite speculation in the media.

  4. I remember that day well. I was thrilled to pieces when I heard that Cardinal Ratzinger was to be the next pope and I knew our church was in good hands with him. I work at a university, and some of the more….secular members of the faculty expressed some reservations. They only knew Ratzinger from the press’s very one sided coverage of him. But one of the faculty spoke up and said that he is a brilliant theologian – respected all over the world – and he is a kind and polite man who’s nothing at all like what he has been portrayed in the press. Some of the faculty still have blinders on, but others have changed their minds.

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