Francis, the new guy in town

I spent the afternoon and early evening finishing my Italian Design mid term paper and working on my Italian homework. We were just about to start getting ready to go out to eat when Patty spotted the news online, that there was white smoke.

It was decided in about 3 secs that we had to get there. We gathered up everyone and I grabbed my tripod and two other lenses and out the door we went. It took about 15 minutes to walk to the area around St Peters. A few blocks out we realized that people were running.
Rushing to the streets

I was reminded of the area where I live near Frankford and Cottman when the Phillies won the World Series a few years ago. Mayhem. Crowds dashing to a single place to be part of a single event. The funniest part was seeing about half a dozen priests, in long black robes, sprint by Patty and I. They were going too fast for me to put up my camera to get a photo in the crowds.

We let the three kids go ahead as soon as the crowds started stopping the traffic. Patty and I held hands for a while to keep from getting separated. A cursory look into my handbag by the security folks as we entered the square and suddenly we were there. It wasn’t as crowded as I expected. In fact we probably could have worked our way farther towards the front, but Pat and I were pretty comfortable where we were, a good view of the big screens and the balcony. I had my long lens and really didn’t want to risk losing a decent spot in pursuit of a “better” spot. We were even with the obelisk and not far from the fountain on the right of the square.
The square awaits

As we arrived in the square the guard was moving out to the front and then we waited for about a half hour until things started to happen. We tried to post to Facebook with photos for the folks at home, but I think everyone in the square had a phone and was trying to use it.
The trick in jockeying for position was in umbrellas. It was rainy when we arrived but there weren’t many umbrellas. Fortunately it was clearing, but even before that, everytime it seemed that something was happening the sisters in front of us would put down their umbrellas in consideration of the people behind them. And so would the others around them.
Faces in the crowd

The cardinal came out and announced the name. A group of sisters in front of us cheered and started talking among themselves. With my rudimentary Italian I could hear them questioning. Francesco? Francesco? They all looked to one older sister who they seem to think knew all the papal names. She was shaking her head. “Francesco? Prima.. (the first) Prima!” They seemed very happy.
A gentleman behind the sisters starting asking them what they thought. Of course in Italian. Funny how I’m having such trouble with grammar, but I was able to pick up enough that he was thinking it had to be an American picking a brand new name. But the sisters seemed to have been up to date on all the contenders and mentioned Argentina, South America. The man seemed satisfied and then soon more people were spotted on the balcony unrolling a special banner. Another couple minutes and then the new Pope walked out on the balcony.
here he is.

He said “Bueno sera” (good evening) which made it was obvious he was not Italian and the crowd cheered. I checked the big screen in between shooting photos. At that point, our only idea about who it was came from the sisters in front of us. Twitter, etc was not working for us, in fact we had trouble texting the kids.

I was torn between using my 50mm portrait lens and my 210 telephoto. One to take portraits of all the interesting faces and emotions I saw in the crowd around me and the other to record the history that was happening on the balcony. I think I got some of both.
we know the name...
Probably the most intense part of being in the square was the moment of silence. It seemed that all of Rome was quiet. (And believe me, that’s rare. Rome is not a quiet city.) I didn’t even want to snap a photo because it seemed my shutter would break the silence.
After the joke, (“My fellow cardinals elected someone from the ends of the earth to get this over with quickly.”) he left the balcony and the bells rang as the crowd dispersed. We took a moment to talk to the sisters about what they knew, stretching the limits of our Italian.
Then it was slow going following the crowds on the way out. It was much slower than heading into the square.

Leaving St Peters

We made it home about 45 minutes later when it only took about 15 to arrive. I got a few more pictures of the crowds. By the time the kids made it back we were all famished and went out for some homemade pasta nearby to celebrate what a wonderful opportunity we had this evening to witness history.

Comments are closed.

See also: