Tuesday, March 13 at 7:12PM, Trastevere’s many churches began ringing their bells in tandem, crowds of excited Romans and tourists began rushing past John Cabot University along Via della Lungara toward Vatican City, and discussions quickly switched their topic: fumata bianca: the Cardinals have selected a new Pope!
Many John Cabot University students made their way over to Vatican City to witness the results of the first Conclave in 600 years after a papal resignation. Despite the rainy weather, Piazza San Pietro was packed with over 150,000 journalists, nuns, priests, tourists, and locals joined together to witness this historic event.
The new Pope emerged about an hour after the white smoke signaled the conclusion of Conclave. The results of this Conclave are certainly marked by many firsts: Argentine Jorge Bergoglio is the first non-European pope in the modern era, the first Latin American pope in history, the first Jesuit, and the first to assume the name Francis.
The son of Italian immigrants, Bergoglio is recognized for his humility and his conservative social beliefs. When he was appointed Cardinal he chose a small apartment over the grandiose cardinal’s residence, took public transportation instead of traveling by chauffeured car, cooked his own meals, and regularly visited the slums in Buenos Aires. He has stated that the church’s future should look toward social outreach instead of doctrinal reforms.
Pope Francis is expected to bring change to the 2,000 year old church. His first public act as Pope was marked by a diversion from tradition, as he requested that his audience pray for him before he bestowed his blessing on them. He also refused to use a platform to elevate himself above the Cardinals who surrounded him during his introduction, choosing instead to meet each of the other Cardinals at his “own level.”
Regardless of religious conviction, John Cabot University’s students have been taking advantage of our proximity to the Vatican over the past few weeks during this incredibly historic and memorable time.
Click here to read about the experience of JCU’s study abroad students from Washington and Lee University.