Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 27 January 2015

Pope Francis I: Irish pilgrims bring a wee bit of home with them... miserable weather

VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - MARCH 12:  Nuns walk through St Peter's Square on March 12, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. Pope Benedict XVIÄôs successor is being chosen by the College of Cardinals in Conclave in the Sistine Chapel. The 115 cardinal-electors, meeting in strict secrecy, will need to reach a two-thirds-plus-one vote majority to elect the 266th Pontiff.  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - MARCH 12: Nuns walk through St Peter's Square on March 12, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. Pope Benedict XVIÄôs successor is being chosen by the College of Cardinals in Conclave in the Sistine Chapel. The 115 cardinal-electors, meeting in strict secrecy, will need to reach a two-thirds-plus-one vote majority to elect the 266th Pontiff. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Pope Francis blesses the crowd from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican (AP)
People walk past a sand sculpture of the new pope at the Golden Sea beach on the Bay of Bengal coast in Puri, Orissa state, India (AP)
The new pope waves to the crowds from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican (AP)
White smoke billows from the chimney on the Sistine Chapel indicating that a new pope has been elected (AP)
FILE - This Oct. 27, 2011 file photo shows Pope Benedict XVI (little figure in white in background) attending a peace meeting with other religious leaders in front of the St. Francis Basilica in Assisi, central Italy, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011. At the moment Cardinal Albino Luciani learned his colleagues had elected him pope, he responded, "May God forgive you for what you've done.'' The remark, by the man who became Pope John Paul I, was seen as an expression of humility, but also a commentary on the mammoth task ahead. There is no job like that of the pope. He is the CEO of a global enterprise, head of state, a moral voice in the world and, in the eyes of Roman Catholics, Christ's representative on earth. The man who emerges as pontiff from the conclave starting Tuesday has a crushing to-do list as he leads the world's 1.2 billion Catholics. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, files)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - MARCH 12: A pilgrim prays in St Peter's Square as cardinals attend mass before entering the conclave on March 12, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. Pope Benedict XVIÄôs successor is being chosen by the College of Cardinals in Conclave in the Sistine Chapel. The 115 cardinal-electors, meeting in strict secrecy, will need to reach a two-thirds-plus-one vote majority to elect the 266th Pontiff. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - MARCH 12: A pilgrim prays in St Peter's Square as cardinals attend mass before entering the conclave on March 12, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. Pope Benedict XVIÄôs successor is being chosen by the College of Cardinals in Conclave in the Sistine Chapel. The 115 cardinal-electors, meeting in strict secrecy, will need to reach a two-thirds-plus-one vote majority to elect the 266th Pontiff. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - MARCH 12: A pilgrim prays in St Peter's Square as cardinals attend mass before entering the conclave on March 12, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. Pope Benedict XVIÄôs successor is being chosen by the College of Cardinals in Conclave in the Sistine Chapel. The 115 cardinal-electors, meeting in strict secrecy, will need to reach a two-thirds-plus-one vote majority to elect the 266th Pontiff. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
ROME, ITALY - MARCH 12: American Cardinals wave to seminarians at the North American College who line the road to watch as they head to St. Peter's Basilica where a Pro eligendo Romano Pontifice Mass will be celebrated before the Cardinals enter the Conclave to decide who the next pope will be on March 12, 2013 in Rome, Italy. Cardinals are set to enter the conclave to elect a successor to Pope Benedict XVI after he became the first pope in 600 years to resign from the role. The conclave is scheduled to start in the afternoon inside the Sistine Chapel and will be attended by 115 cardinals as they vote to select the 266th Pope of the Catholic Church. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
ROME, ITALY - MARCH 12: American Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan gestures before boarding a bus to take him and other Cardinals from the North American College to St. Peter's Basilica where a Pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice Mass will be celebrated before they enter the Conclave to decide who the next pope will be on March 12, 2013 in Rome, Italy. Cardinals are set to enter the conclave to elect a successor to Pope Benedict XVI after he became the first pope in 600 years to resign from the role. The conclave is scheduled to start in the afternoon inside the Sistine Chapel and will be attended by 115 cardinals as they vote to select the 266th Pope of the Catholic Church. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
ROME, ITALY- MARCH 12: American Cardinals walk to a bus to take them from the North American College to St. Peter's Basilica where a Pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice Mass will be celebrated before they enter the Conclave to decide who the next pope will be on March 12, 2013 in Rome, Italy. Cardinals are set to enter the conclave to elect a successor to Pope Benedict XVI after he became the first pope in 600 years to resign from the role. The conclave is scheduled to start in the afternoon inside the Sistine Chapel and will be attended by 115 cardinals as they vote to select the 266th Pope of the Catholic Church. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - MARCH 11: A member of The Swiss Guard closes the gate at the Arch of the Bells at St Peter's Basilica on March 11, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican. Cardinals are set to enter the conclave to elect a successor to Pope Benedict XVI after he became the first pope in 600 years to resign from the role. The conclave is scheduled to start on March 12 inside the Sistine Chapel and will be attended by 115 cardinals as they vote to select the 266th Pope of the Catholic Church. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
A nun walks inside St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Monday, March 11, 2013.
Two cardinals walk past Swiss guards as they leave after a meeting at the Vatican to set a date for the conclave to elect a new pope (AP)
Pope Francis waves from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica at the Vatican (AP)
Pope Francis prays inside St Mary Major Basilica in Rome (AP/L'Osservatore Romano)
An Indian sand artist finishes a sculpture of the new pope in Puri, Orissa state, India (AP)

It was, as they say somewhat to the west of Vatican City, a soft day. The skies over St Peter's Square were dark and the rain hammered down relentlessly on the soggy, slippery cobblestones.

Nonetheless, there was a buzz in the sodden Rome air and the square slowly filled as crowds gathered to keep vigil over the chimney.

Tourists and pilgrims from all over the world huddled under umbrellas or took shelter under the giant pillared walkways.

And the long and wet wait was worth it as anticipation turned to prayer and celebration as Pope Francis appeared on the balcony.

Among the Irish folk with extra special reasons to travel to Rome for the conclave was Kitty Mulligan, sister of All-Ireland primate Sean Brady, the sole Irish prelate taking part in the events unfolding in the Sistine Chapel.

Kitty, a former teacher, said that her brother "was very aware of the significance of how important it (the conclave) is. It's been described as a sacred task, and that's what it is".

Cardinal Brady was in St Peter's Square for the election of Paul VI. "He would never, ever in his wildest dreams, think that he would be taking part in the conclave," she said.

Belfast priest Fr Tim Bartlett was also attending his first conclave.

Speaking before the decision was made, he said: "I believe that the man God wants at this moment in time will be chosen."

He had escorted Cardinal Brady to the Santa Marta residence on the morning of the start of the conclave. "He had a very real sense of privilege, and also felt the weight of responsibility on his shoulders," he said.

Fr David Brough, parish priest in Oldbawn, Tallaght and Bohernabreena in Dublin, and his friend Stephanie Dardis from Leopardstown, were wandering about the Square. He said: "We arrived last night, it was a spontaneous decision to come to Rome for such a historic occasion."

Soaking up the mood were Killarney couple Ella and Gary Stack. "We'd planned a trip to Barcelona but came to Rome instead when they announced the date of the conclave," She said. "There's a great feeling."

Gary had never attended St Peter's during a conclave before, but in 1979 was one of four people who had a 40-minute private audience with John Paul II.

"I was in Rome with a couple of seminarian friends when Tomas O Fiach got the red hat and we were invited to the Pope's private apartments.

"I'm a doctor, and he spoke to me about his own brother who was a doctor," he said.

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