It was on March 13, 2013 when the smoked white spread across the night sky of San Pedro Square marking the beginning of a milestone: Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the first Argentine and Latin American Jesuit appointed to govern a church with more than 1.2 billion faithful worldwide and took the name of Pope Francis.
Cardinal Bergoglio entered the Sistine Chapel on March 12, unaware that, in just over 24 hours, he would become the new pope. Before the conclave began, rumors favored the Italian Scola, the Canadian Ouellet and the Brazilian Scherer as possible successors to Benedict XVI, who had resigned.
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Once the cardinals were sworn to secrecy and settled in their pews, the Master of Pontifical Liturgical Ceremonies appeared in front of the microphone and said deadpan: “Extra omnes”, which translated from Latin meant “everyone out” or “no one left”..
From that moment on, those who did not participate in the conclave left the Sistine Chapel. Then the doors were closed to begin the most awaited moment. In San Pedro Square, thousands of pilgrims from different parts of the world gathered anxiously waiting for the long-awaited white smoke.
Before the start of the conclave, the cardinals prepared the election of the pontiff with the so-called general congregations.
In the penultimate of these meetings, Bergoglio caught the attention of many with a three and a half minute talk that was inspiring, refreshing and visionary. His words had an enormous impact and, from that moment, many began to see him as the new Pope, although without manifesting it.
Inside doors, 115 cardinals began the vote. Of that total, 68 had participated in the 2005 conclave, in which Bergoglio had come in second place. His colleagues classified the cardinal from Buenos Aires as a deeply spiritual man, unambitious and with a very simple and simple way of living.
The demonstrations of affection that he professed to the poor that he visited in different settlements and deprived neighborhoods aroused admiration and tilted the vote in his favor.
Two hours later, the first vote added impatience to the faithful in San Pedro square. The smoke that rose from the chimney was black; sign that there was no agreement between the cardinals. However, despite the disappointment and the cold that hit the city of Rome, several pilgrims stayed waiting for the scoop.
Behind the scenes, the first vote indicated that Cardinal Scola had obtained 30 votes (much less than expected) and Bergoglio 26, a surprising number for the initial rumors.
Since most of the cardinals participating in the conclave do not know each other well, they rely on “kingmakers” for guidance regarding potential candidates.
“Kingmakers” are cardinals who know many (perhaps all) of the cardinals and are trusted by their fellow cardinals for reliable information regarding the candidates.
During the 2013 conclave there were several cardinals who knew Jorge Mario Bergoglio and had participated in the one held in 2005. Among them Bagnasco (Italy), Maradiaga (Honduras), Murphy-O’Connor (United Kingdom), Gracias (India), Monswengo (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Turkson (Ghana) and Hummes (Brazil).
On the morning of March 13, rain added to the inclement weather. Umbrellas and more pilgrims leave piling up with the passing of the hours.
At 11:38 a.m. in Rome, the fireplace announced another disappointment. The black smoke, again the black smoke, contagious disappointment in the crowd. That, despite everything, he kept waiting for the white smoke and the announcement from the high priests.
“We have a Pope: Francis”
Hours passed. The clock indicated that there were only a few minutes left before 3:00 p.m. in Argentina, while the Roman night hurried to darken the city; when white smoke rose from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel. unmistakable.
was the famous white smokecolor achieved by adding a pinch of potassium chlorate, lactose and rosin to the burn that turned impatience into general joy.
Inside the Chapel, of the 115 cardinals from 51 countries on five continents, Bergoglio obtained 77 votes. While outside a crowd remained in a boiling state. The cold was forgotten, the rain transformed the wait into an epic and the patience of the faithful into excitement to find out who was going to be the new highest pontiff.
Finally, the purple curtains were drawn. The doors opened to the beat of the chimes. It was 3:06 p.m. Argentine time (7:06 p.m. in Rome) when the protodeacon Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran appeared on the main balcony of the Sistine Chapel and spoke.
“I announce a great joy to you…Habemus Papa”. The words filled the square with celebration, the faithful hugged and celebrated being witnesses of a historic moment. “The Most Eminent and Most Reverend Mr. Jorge Mario Cardinal of the Saint of the Roman Church Bergoglio, who has imposed the name of FranciscoTaurean said.
In an interview with the newspaper PERFIL on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of his papacyFrancisco spoke about the details of his election and the importance of his friend, the Brazilian cardinal Cláudio Hummes (1934-2022) at the time the conclave was taking place.
“The dynamics of the Conclave is a strange thing, I did not realize it because sometimes one does not know who to vote for, so they give the vote to what we call a deposit vote, until one of the taitas told you that there were four favorites who It could be, he said, four. But then, which of these four is it going to be? So I vote for this one. And when I saw that the votes were growing, the first, the second, the third that was at noon, the first was at night the day before,” he said.
He added: “The second and third were in the morning, and I said: ‘What’s going on here, too much deposit?’ I didn’t realize it. And I only realized it at lunch, because when I was leaving lunch a cardinal comes running and asks me: ‘Is it true that they removed a lung?’, I reply: ‘No. Only the lobe upper right due to cysts’. ‘And when was that?’. ‘In the year 57’. He replied: ‘These last-minute maneuvers!’ That’s when I realized. But I still took a quiet nap, went back there, and there, in the second afternoon, I was elected. Benedicto was elected in the first afternoon, I in the second.”
Asked what he felt at the climax of the conclave, Francisco replied: “Rigidity.” “One defends oneself by wanting not to feel. When in the penultimate, the first in the afternoon, when the thing was almost clear since it was going to end badly (sic), Cardinal Hummes came up behind me and told me: “Don’t be scared, it was the work of the Holy Spirit.” A great guy Cardinal Hummes. And when I was elected, I had two thirds, and the votes continued, Hummes approached me and said: “Don’t forget the poor.” And that’s where the name Francisco came from. Hummes accompanied me with those two gestures.
“It seems that my brother cardinals have gone looking for a Pope almost to the end of the world”
On Wednesday, March 13, 2013, at 4:12 p.m. in Argentina, Jorge Mario Bergoglio appeared behind a huge cross.. The man born in the Flores neighborhood, the son of Piedmontese immigrants, to a father who was an accountant and railway employee and a mother who was a housewife, appeared on the balcony in immaculate, spotless white clothing. The new Pope greeted the crowd that was waiting for him in Saint Peter’s Square.
The clock in the Italian capital marked 8:23 p.m. (4:23 p.m. in Argentina) when the recently elected Pope Francis pronounced his first words before the faithful: “Good evening, you know that the duty of the conclave was to choose a bishop for Rome . It seems that my brother cardinals have gone looking for a Pope almost to the end of the world, but we are here. I thank you for the reception of the diocesan community of Rome to your bishop, thank you. And, first of all, I would like to say a prayer for our emeritus bishop, Benedict XVI. Let us pray together for him, so that the Lord blesses him and the Virgin guards him ”, were his first words from the balcony of the Chapel.
Next to a packed square, the recently elected Pope Francis prayed the first Our Father as the highest representative of the curia. At the end, he continued his speech: “And now we begin this path, bishop and people, this path of the Church of Rome, which is the one that presides over all the churches in charity. A path of brotherhood, love and trust between us. Let us always pray for ourselves. For each other. Let us pray for the whole world that there is a great brotherhood”.
“And now I would like to give the blessing, but first I ask you a favor. Before the bishop blesses the people, I ask you to pray to the Lord to bless me. The prayers of the people asking for a blessing for their bishop. Let us make this prayer of yours for me in silence”, Francisco concluded. The applause of the faithful present was transformed into a unique, forceful, empathetic sound.
nt / ds
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