University of Dallas junior Amy Sullivan is studying in Rome. She shared with The Cardinal Newman Society what it's been like to be in the Eternal City during these historic days. Wrote Sullivan:
Being in St. Peter's the other night was the most incredible and historic moment I have ever experienced in my life! I can't even begin to comprehend everything - I cannot believe that I witnessed such an historical event. And especially since I've been here in Rome for everything; Pope Benedict's last public Papal mass on Ash Wednesday (which was also unbelievable and - in the true essence of the word - awesome), his last Papal audience, his resignation and seeing his helicopter fly over our campus while we spelled out his name on our soccer field...the past few weeks have been unbelievably and completely surreal.
By the grace of God, I was less than five feet away from the front barricade, we were probably three rows of people away. I was by myself originally, but I found another American student that I immediately bonded with and together we found some other English-speakers. It was wet and cold and miserable and I loved every second of it. I didn't even realize how close we were until I went up on my tip-toes and saw the barricade for myself. On a slight side note, I thought the seagull standing on the chimney was really funny, and a Canadian woman that I met said,"It's the Holy Spirit!!!"
When the smoke started coming out, none of us were completely sure if it was black or white, so there were a few seconds of probably the most intense anticipation that I have ever experienced, and then everyone (myself included) went crazy. I couldn't believe it. I was hoping and praying that I would be here to see the white smoke and witness and experience something that is so important to millions of people around the world but I wasn't sure if I would be able to (because our Spring Break starts today, and I have my tickets already booked). Praise God that I WAS able to be there!
Anyway, I can definitely say that I was pleasantly reminded of how universal our Church is...initially making my way through the crowd and hearing all the different languages being spoken, meeting people from all around the world - Italy(obviously), Germany, France, England, Colombia, Canada, Chicago, St. Louis - who came together as one unified Church in St. Peter's square to see our new Holy Father, Head of the Church on Earth and receive the first Papal blessing; it's mind-blowing. I walked around afterwards with my friends (I found them afterwards) in a daze. I am still overwhelmingly amazed and awestruck.
I don't speak any Italian, so honestly I had no idea what was being said, all I understood was Francesco, a name that I did not recognize. I just assumed that the Holy Spirit had done Its work through the Cardinals, and I understood that I was witnessing the workings of the Tradition of the Church which has been at work for thousands of years now. I'm very excited for Pope Francis, he seems energetic and humble and ready to serve and I hope he will lead us all into the future.
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