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Eye witness account by Norbertine Fr. Juan Diego.

 +Resurrexit sicut dixit+

4/19/05  

On the nineteenth day of April, in the year of our Lord two-thousand and five, I had the singular blessing, while in my second year of theological studies in Rome, of hearing the blessed words 'Habemus Papam', and of subsequently beholding the 265th Bishop of Rome and Vicar of Christ, Benedict XVI, formerly Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Bavaria, as he came forth from the balcony in the façade of St. Peter to adress his new flock.

I went to St. Peter's square at 11:50 am to see the results of the second and third ballots of the Conclave. As expected, I was greeted with the sight of black smoke escaping from the Sistine chimney stack. I returned home, and after prayers, pranzo, a siesta, and the cutting of Joos' hair, I rallied the troops for an early rosary so as to give me a chance to race down to St. Peter's just in case the first evening vote, the fourth, would give us a new Pope. All went well, and I was out the door and racing on the Cannondale at about 5:45.

I made the mistake of using the Tiber route, given that heavy rains had brought the level up over its normal banks. I had to ride quite slowly through mud and water so as not to kick up a bunch of mud and thus splatter my back. (Because the order's cassock is white, hard to clean) Little did I know, that as I sludged through the Tiber mud, the Cardinals were just finishing the election of the new Pope. As I came up the stairs which bring one close to the Porta Santo Spirito, I noticed some people running across the street. The first ones I saw seemed to be in exercise gear and so I figured they were jogging. But as I crossed the next street, I noticed that a lot more people were running. Going down the street at the back of Santo Spirito, I began to realize that something was astir. I was weaving between a bunch of people running, and finally asked a woman, ';Che é succeso?''; She turned to me and said, ';Habemus Papam'';.

I went along now with a little more gusto, and used my loudly squeaking brakes to pave myself a way. I locked the bike on the corner, and as I entered the piazza, a little bit after 6:00, I looked to the smoke stack and thought that I saw the white smoke, although it could have just been the white clouds behind. If it was the white smoke, it was the last belch of it, for I certainly didn'';t see any when I looked back again. I came easily into the piazza and found a classmate near the obelisk, a German named Daniel. I decided to stand by him and not try for an approach to the front, which would have been easy then. We sat and talked of the events as the piazza and entire Via di Conciliazione filled rapidly. I thought of the confreres and hoped that they would make it in time to see the approach of the new Pope. Ambrose had decided not to accompany me, and Charbel also declined just as I was leaving. Only Andrew had decided for sure to go, but he was going by way of bus and so wou

At about 6:35 the crowd starting cheering so as to encourage things along upstairs. At 6:40 the doors of the balcony were opened, and the velvet curtain then closed completely. Cheers turned to sighs at this, for all thought the time had come. Yet we didn'';t have to wait long, for moments later Cardinal Medina came out with two MC'';s to read the pronouncement. He hailed us as brothers and sisters in Italian, then Spanish, French, German, and finally in English. Then he read in Latin the glorious words, 'Annuncio vobis gaudium magnum. Habemus Papam.'' Then he hailed the new Pope (can't remember why it was accusative) as Reverendissimum Dominum'#8230;Dominum Josephum. It was at that moment that I thought of Ratzinger, and figured that it was him. I looked to Daniel and said 'C'e Ratzinger!'' Then he announced 'Cardinalus Ratzinger.''; The crowd gave great applause, and then he said he would take the name of, 'Benedicti Deci Se

He looked very endearing with the white hat over his full head of white hair, with the big stole upon the red cape and the new white Papal dress underneath. Black sleeves could be seen underneath the Papal tunic, as the new Pope alternated between extending his arms to the crowd and clasping them together above him. He seemed endearingly awkward, with a look of great kindness. He spoke first of the pontificate of the great John Paul, and that the Cardinals had seen fit to choose one who was a simple and humble laborer in the Lord's vineyard. He said that God is able to work and lead through even insufficient instruments, and he entrusted himself to our prayers. He ended by invoking the aid of our Lord and our Lady. When he spoke of himself as an insufficient instrument, with his kind and loving face, awkwardness, and accented Italian, a surge of emotion arose within me, a joy to hear such words and see such a man as the new Pope.

These past days have been quite inspiring as far as seeing the Church in Her preparation for the conclave. Prayer for the Cardinals and the disposing of themselves to be instruments of the Holy Spirit has been at the forefront. People turned out en masse for our beloved John Paul, and then to encourage the Cardinals in a decision so important at all times, but in particular for us now, as we look back upon the amazing years and work of John Paul in a world at times so distant from what the Lord would have us be. I had a great hope for this Conclave, and to see a College of Cardinals so diverse elect a Pope such as Benedict XVI after just a day is quite encouraging. I didn't think he would be elected, both because of his age and because of his being known as one of the most conservative and traditional of the Cardinals. It was indeed a great grace to be a part of it all.

After the Pope retreated back into St. Peter's, I left the piazza and ran into Father Stephen just by Santo Spirito. While recounting all that happened, we saw Claude, and then he and I walked home by way of Trastevere. There we saw Ambrose, Sebastian, and Matthew, and we all walked home together after speaking to a bunch of Texans. Now to see what lies ahead, and to try to do better in fulfilling my own particular part. Gratias tibi ago Deus, pro nostro novo Papa Benedicto XVI!

 

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