Drenched crowds' long wait rewardedElena Curti in St Peter's Square - 14 March 2013
The crowd in St Peter's at last saw their new Pope. Deafening cheers greeted the emergence of Pope Francis I on the balcony of St Peter's Basilica.
All around us people were asking who is this man? They had no idea where he came from and no idea that he is, in fact, a Jesuit - the first Jesuit Pope to take the chair of Peter.
The new Pope struck a whole new tone, asking for people's prayers and referring to himself repeatedly as a bishop, signalling perhaps the style of leadership we can expect from this man.
After an hour or so people began to move away from the front of the square, although flags were being waved representing pilgrims from all around the world. The grand bell of St Peter was tolling once more. There was joy, but more than that, there was intense interest in finding out more about the relatively unknown cardinal who has now become pope.
Latin Americans in St Peter's Square greeted the election of the first ever Pope from their region with astonishment and pure joy. Fr Giovanni from Peru, who is studying dogmatic theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, told The Tablet: "This is a Pope for the whole world. This was a great surprise. I never expected the new Pope to come from South America. The name surprised me too: Pope Francis the first. It is a beautiful name because St Francis was very close to Our Lord."
Santos, from Peru, said that the decision was a wonderful surprise. "For me this is the most wonderful thing. I never expected that the new Pope would be from Latin America," he said. "This is the first time I am in St Peter's Square to see the white smoke. It is beautiful, absolutely marvellous. The name of Francis is an absolutely fantastic choice. In my group we erupted with cheers - we could scarcely believe it. Now the Church has to unite around the Pope. We are truly overjoyed but this Pope is not just for us. He is for the whole world."
Brother Jesus, an Augustinian friar from Mexico, said the decision was a surprise for everyone. He said: "This is the first time we have a Pope from outside Europe so it is a great surprise for everyone. It is something I really wasn't expecting. His was one of those names that was hardly being mentioned but in the end he came through. As a Jesuit he is clearly a humble man and also a great man. Even the name Francis speaks volumes. It is sign that he has embraced poverty and will work to restore the Church." Tali, a Catholic from Argentina, said that the experience had been moving. "I feel very emotional about it," she said. "We were here this morning waiting and waiting and it was worth it. I don't know too much about him. Francesco as a name is a wonderful choice because there are so many Italians in Argentina and Francesco is an Italian name. I am also Italian-Argentinian so it truly touches my heart."
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