Salem Locals On Hand to Welcome New Pope
A small group of Salem residents witnessed the election of a new pope first-hand Wednesday.
While many city residents were glued to their television sets Wednesday afternoon watching white smoke rising from the Vatican, a handful of locals were half-way across the globe, taking it all in first-hand.
On Monday, Giovanni and Paula Graziani of Caffe Graziani on Washington Street in Salem, left with a group of their guests and friends to take part in a wine and food tour of Italy.
"Never did we expect to included electing a pope as part of the trip," Paula Graziani said in an email early Thursday morning.
The Grazianis and several of their guests were fortunate enough to find themselves in Piazza San Pietro Wednesday afternoon and after hearing a rumor circulating the crowd that a new pope would soon be elected - they decided to wait it out and see what would happen.
"So we found a strategic spot in the rain, from which we could observe the famous chimney amidst all the umbrellas," Graziani said. "Well 5 turned to 5:30, 6 and then the new rumor was anytime between 5 and 7. As the rain came and went many of our group grew discouraged and quit but I wasn't going anywhere."
All of that waiting, she said, paid off when the white smoke began to rise through the rain.
"When that white smoke emerged the crowd burst out in tears, songs, prayer and chants of Viva il Papa! It was well worth the wait," she said. "Then to pray with Pope Francis and receive his first blessing made it a day we will never forget."
Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected pope Wednesday.
Bergoglio, 76, was ordained as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 2001. As Pope Francis I, he now succeeds Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger) as the next leader of the Catholic Church. He is the first Pope from the Americas and the first from the Jesuit order to hold the office.
Where were you when you heard the new pope had been elected? What do you think about the decision to elect Pope Francis?
Let us know in the comments section below.