Student studying abroad in Rome lives history as she sees one pope resign, another announced


Kim Weinberg ’14 smiles in Rome.

By Kim Weinberg ’14
Health Sciences major

As if living in Vatican City, let alone Italy, is not amazing in itself, I have had the amazing opportunity to watch history be made.

A week into living in Italy, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he would resign, making him the first pope in 600 years to do so. The next day, Vatican City was flooded with news reporters and camera crews.

As soon as I decided to spend the semester in Rome, I knew I had to attend Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. On Ash Wednesday, some friends and I had the privilege to not only attending Mass in St Peter’s, but also to attend Pope Benedict XVI’s last Ash Wednesday service.

It was absolutely unbelievable to be there.

St. Peter’s Basilica is incredible and simply being there leaves me speechless, so to be there on Ash Wednesday was remarkable.

Although I do not speak Latin and could not understand every word they were saying, I was still able to follow along. I knew that Mass is universal, but it was still interesting to see that it truly was similar to Mass at home, just in a different language.


The new pope emerges with several cardinals on a balcony high over St. Peter’s Square. (Photo by Kim Weinberg ’14.)

After the amazing experience on Ash Wednesday, once I heard the conclave began on Tuesday, I knew I had to be there to witness the white smoke.

It was originally rumored that the announcement would be Thursday so when my friends and I went to St. Peter’s Square tonight, we were expecting black smoke to come out. When everyone saw that it was white smoke, the crowd went wild and everyone began clapping and cheering in excitement; many people cried tears of joy.

It was an indescribable feeling to know that I was about to witness the revealing of the new pope and history in the making.

After the smoke subsided, we all waited patiently for the pope to come out onto the balcony.

Once everyone came out and it was announced that the new pope was Pope Francesco, everyone began chanting “Viva la Papa” or “Francesco.”

Seeing Pope Francesco on the balcony with all of the cardinals left me speechless.


White smoke pours out of a smoke stack on the Sistine Chapel symbolizing a new pope has been selected. (Photo by Kim Weinberg ’14.)

I have never been a part of something so amazing in all of my life and I am so grateful to have been able to witness both Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francesco.

Not only have I had the amazing opportunity to witness firsthand two popes, I witnessed the first pope to resign in 600 years, the first non-European pope and the first pope Francesco.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought that my decision to spend a semester in Italy would result in me being a part of so many wonderful historical events.

I am truly blessed and grateful for these opportunities and am excited to see what is yet to come.

Kim is studying abroad in Rome this semester.

Categories: News, School of Health Sciences

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to toolbar