Destination: Vatican City

Spring 2013, I found myself in Rome at the same time as the papal election. This was an electric period, as no one knew what direction the Catholic Church would take after Pope Benedict stepped down. The photo above was taken the night after Papa Francesco was elected, much to the joy of the thousands of spectators in St. Peter's Square. In the upper right, you can barely make out the pipe installed for the occasion - it was where the black (no pope) or white (pope!) smoke was released after each round of voting.

Photos galore follow.

Black smoke after the second vote was "no pope"

The moment Pope Benedict made his first appearance to the crowd

Inside St. Peter's Basilica

Program for the Mass of the Election of the Roman Pontificate. It was 2 hours long, all in Latin, and was fantastic.

The audience for the Mass

Procession of the cardinals at the conclusion of the Mass

The Pieta

The red porphyry disc at the entrance, taken from the old basilica, is the stone on which Charlemagne and other Emperors were crowned

View from the top of the Basilica onto the square