Charlestown Resident Welcomes New Pope in Rome
While on vacation, Kathleen Devaney, a member of St. Mary-St. Catherine of Siena Parish, found herself in the midst of a historic event in the Catholic Church.
Charlestown resident Kathleen Devaney just happened to be in Rome on vacation this week when new Pope Francis was elected. A member of St. Mary-St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Charlestown, Devaney found herself right in the middle of a historic event, with Catholics all over the world focused on the papal election and the successive announcement of the new pope. Below is Devaney’s experience in Rome, sent via email:
We are in Rome for a planned vacation and had no idea that we would be able to experience the election of a Pope while we were here.
Of course we have been very aware of the lead up to the conclave. The Sistine Chapel and the Vatican gardens were closed to visitors. On Sunday, we noticed the red curtain had been installed on the central window at St. Peter's [Basilica]. I have followed the discussions of the various cardinals who were thought to be strong candidates. Cardinal O'Malley was much talked about.
I attended the "Santa Mesa Per l'Elezione Del Romano Pontefice" (the Mass for the election of a Roman pontiff) on Tuesday morning. We got to see the cardinals walk down the center aisle of St. Peter's Basilica, wondering which one would be the next Pope. It was a beautiful Mass, prayed in Latin.
Wednesday we went over to the Square at noon and saw the black smoke. The crowd was relatively small and everyone groaned when the smoke came out. We spent the afternoon in the Vatican Museum.
At 5 we went to the Square and there was a pretty big crowd. There was no smoke as we had been told the only smoke at that hour would be white or nothing. The smoke had been at 6:45 the night before, so I thought I would stay for another hour. It had been raining all day and my feet were wet and I was getting cold. I didn't think there would be white smoke so soon, and I was tempted to go home and just come back if there was white smoke as our apartment is only 10 minutes away. But I was pretty close to the Basilica so I decided to stay.
The crowd got larger and larger and larger. When it got to be 7 and there was no smoke everyone started to get excited. When the smoke was white there was a huge cheer and the crowd seemed to spontaneously press forward toward the Basilica.
I had expected the announcement and the words from the new Pope but did not know about the parade of the Swiss Guard. I also did not know that all the cardinals would be in the windows flanking the Pope. It was spectacular. People were shouting “Viva il Papa! Viva il Papa!”
There were many priests and religious sisters in the Square and many Italians, of course. When the new Pope's name was announced we all glanced at each other. Who is that? Someone said Argentina. But the name Francis brought a sweet sigh from everyone around me.
The new pope spoke in Italian so I could not understand what he was saying, but his voice was so sweet. There were big screens all around the Square so we could see his face up close as well as the lighted facade of St Peter's with the new Pope and red dress of the cardinals in the side windows.
We prayed the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be with him, and it was beautiful.
My oldest grandchild is named Francis and so I have really come to love this saint in recent years. I had rooted for Cardinal O'Malley and hoped if he were elected he would take the name Francis. I got it half right, but in a way I got it all right because what I love about Cardinal Sean we have in this new Pope. He is a man of humility, gentle and prayerful like Cardinal Sean—and St Francis! He is Latin American where so many Catholics are so devout. And he especially cares for the poor, which is the heart of Jesus' message.