A Pedacito Of A Papal Election In Vatican City, Italy
Updated: Jun 19
Witnessing the election of a Pope is not something that happens often and many of us can only watch the pomp and circumstance on television. However, I was one of the lucky ones who were there in 2013, watching as Pope Francis was introduced to the world as the next leader of the Catholic Church.
The conclave brings together all of the Cardinals in Rome to vote on the next Pope. It’s also famous for the white smoke and black smoke that come from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel.
Thousands of people descend upon the area near Vatican City to await the introduction of the new Pope, regardless of how long it takes. The focus is on that chimney, and for a few days, all we saw was black smoke, which indicates there is at least another vote to take place.
While there’s always a nice crowd in Rome, it’s even more pronounced during a conclave. Everyone knows they are part of history by being in the area, even though some of the normal attractions that typically bring someone to Rome are not available.
During the 2013 conclave, and the lead-up to it, tours of the Vatican were cut off to the public and a security perimeter was set up around Vatican City.
Restaurants near that area were more crowded than normal and the waits were longer than we experienced in the days leading up to the start of the conclave. But people showed up, if only to see it from the outside and be a part of this historic experience.
Once elected, the new Pope is introduced and the red curtains reveal who the Cardinals think will be the best leader of the church. The rain that encompassed Rome did not dampen any spirits and everyone standing outside of Vatican CIty was filled with excitement to get a glimpse of the newest Pope.
When the black smoke appeared, my work commitments had me at our location at the end of the Via Della Conciliazione. So when Pope Francis was introduced after the fifth ballot was cast, I watched it on TV while listening to the crowd's cheer outside our little trailer.
However, I did get to step out and get a super blurry photo of him on the balcony. It’s so blurry that I won’t share it, but I show it whenever anyone wants to know what it was like to be there when Pope Francis was introduced.
After the excitement of the election of the new Pope, I was able to stay in Rome another week or so and enjoy the city even more. Although the crowds subsided a bit, especially around Vatican City, they picked back up when Pope Francis gave his first mass a week later.
Whenever the time arises to elect a new Pope, I highly recommend being in Rome for this unique and historic event. Not only are you witnessing history, but it’s such a joyous occasion and everyone is happy.
Join our community to network with other travelers around the world and to gain access to exclusive content and events. Submit your travel stories for a chance to get published!