[Inside the church where Saint Francis's tomb is kept, at his birthplace in Assisi]
On the night the Pope was elected, I was teaching a little boy at his house. Ten minutes before our lesson was supposed to end, his mom came running in declaring, "The white smoke is here! Marissa, hurry home to watch, you'll want to tell your children one day where you were when the new Pope was chosen!"
Manu was equally excited, and called me on my long walk home to let me know that I hadn't missed anything yet. His dad, who was working in his office around the corner from our house, came over to watch too, for fear that he would miss those very important five minutes. We sat in the living room, literally on the edges of our seats, awaiting the arrival onto that tiny balcony. Though I'm not as religious as my late grandmothers would have wanted me to be, I couldn't help but feel totally captivated. In the city you could hear a pin drop.
We laughed and patted Manu's dad on the back when he translated the part in Latin to us that the Pope was his namesake - Francesco. All the church bells throughout the town began to peal.
As you can imagine, the next day it was the only thing anyone could talk about. Even my youngest students all asked, "Did you see the Pope? Do you like him?" The general consensus here is that he's great, and I agree. Among 267 Popes, he's the first to have chosen Francesco as a name, which in itself speaks volumes. The embodiment of Saint Francis is how a Pope should be; humble, compassionate, human.
P.S. If you're a history nerd like me, here's an interesting article about what happens inside the conclave.