by Graham Quinn
Over spring break, many students traveled. Many students had exciting experiences, including freshman Lorenzo Neal.
On March 13, 2013, the papal Conclave elected the 266th Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church. Pope Francis I, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was the successor to Benedict XVI. Pope Francis I, from Argentina, is the first non-European pope in 1000 years.
During spring break, Neal took a vacation to Italy with his mother. When they were in Rome, their intention was not to see the new Pope. In fact, they did not even think that he would be elected while they were there.
But, when the white smoke came out of the chimney at the Vatican, signifying that a new Pope had been elected, Neal and his family were in St. Peter’s Square.
“There weren’t that many people around,” Neal said, “but then when the white smoke came out, tons of people came.”
Standing in St. Peter’s Square around Neal was a very diverse crowd.
“I heard a bunch of different languages and saw people from other countries,” Neal said.
Neal and his family were lucky; they were extremely close when the Pope was announced.
“We were only about 200 yards from the new Pope when he came out,” Neal said, “I could see him clearly.”
Seeing the Pope come out for the first time was an exciting experience for Neal.
“It was a once in a lifetime experience that I’ll never forget,” Neal said.
Very few in the world will ever see the Pope in person, especially at the Vatican. Even fewer people will actually be there when the new Pope is chosen. For Neal to have been there for such a rare and exciting experience is once in a lifetime.
When asked about Neal’s experience in Rome, Rev. Patrick Fulton, C.S.B. agreed that witnessing the election of a Pope is an exciting event.
“The wonderful thing about being present at St. peter’s when the Pope is chosen is,” Fulton said, “that one is with a whole representation of the make up of the church to greet the individual who will be chosen to lead the universal Church.”
Witnessing the new Pope being elected is certainly an exciting experience. For Lorenzo Neal to be there just by chance is even more exciting, and an unforgettable experience.