The crowds gathered in Saint Peter’s Square this evening exploded with excitement as the white smoke billowed from the roof of the Sistine Chapel, signaling the election of Pope Francis, the 267th pontiff of the Catholic Church.
This being only the second day of the Conclave, there was a sense that the decision would not be made this evening. When the white smoke plumed from the chimney, therefore, the pilgrims burst into applause, moving as far forward as possible so as to be close to the façade of the basilica. The rain, which had drummed St. Peter’s Square for hours as pilgrims waited for the signal, slowly ceased after the election was signaled. All eyes were turned to the loggia as those gathered in the Square waited to learn who would be new Holy Father.
After more than half an hour, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran stepped forward and delivered the announcement, in Latin, that the Conclave had chosen Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and that he had chosen the name Francis.
The crowds began to chant “Francesco! Francesco!” as they waited for the new pope to come out onto the loggia. Although there was an air of impatience, there was no sense of agitation from the crown: merely an eagerness to meet Pope Francis I.
When he finally came to the loggia, the crowds erupted into cheers. He asked that those gathered, and all those participating in this moment through modern media, take a moment of silence and pray for him. The entire Square, which has been non-stop noise for days, fell silent.
Then, Pope Francis gave his first blessing, and wished everyone a good night.