This is it!

March 9, 2013

Some say that it is high time, and others say that it is too early, but one thing is for certain, the conclave will begin Tuesday. I have been going to St. Peter's Square at least four times per day for almost two weeks now. Unable to shake my sciatica (a long-term companion of mine), I regularly sit under one or another of the colonnades simply to observe the hustle and bustle of the crowds.

Two things immediately struck me during my first few days here in the square: the hordes of visitors and the media presence. Although there are always multitudes of people here to visit, the lineups for entering the basilica have certainly grown since my arrival. The crowds change slightly with the weather, but they never diminish.  

The media is a permanent fixture, and its broadcasting facilities are impressive. It would be interesting to measure the frequency of electromagnetic waves with which we are constantly being bombarded in the square and on the outskirts.  

Everything was going according to plan until around 11 A.M. yesterday morning. The cardinals were meeting in the Paul VI Audience Hall, and I entered a church to pray for a little while. Surprise! I bumped into a European correspondent for CBC who was taking footage with her film crew.  We've known each other for several years, and the last time we saw each other was two years ago, at the canonization of St. Brother André.  We said hello, embraced, and she introduced her crew to me.  We were exchanging the latest gossip about everything that has been going on in Rome when her cell phone vibrated, giving her the news that the date of the conclave had just been announced.  Now, the press was to be briefed only after the morning's meeting was adjourned.  Clearly someone had "twittered" the information before it was officially relayed to the media. Needless to say, this was confirmed later on.  

This morning, at St. Peter's Square, the crowds had tripled, and all the media gathered together for the arrival of the cardinals. Yes, this is really it. The following congregations will most certainly be taking an entirely different turn, as the prelates demonstrated at midday today, by appearing to want to continue their discussions on the hall's entrance.  

Visitors will continue to stream in from everywhere, many of which are ready to literally camp on the spot in order to see the famous white smoke. Basically, the election of the Successor of Peter concerns everyone.

All that we can do now is accompany our cardinals in prayer.  

Richard Saint-Louis, d.p. 

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