With the appearance of white smoke from the tiny chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel signifying that a new pope had been elected, Rome eagerly awaited to discover who would be the successor to Benedict XVI.
Sometime later, Jorge Mario Bergoglio stepped from behind the red velvet curtains draped over the balcony of St Peter’s Square to greet the many who had turned out to welcome the new pope into power.
Taking the name Francis, the 76 year old from Argentina was an unexpected choice that had not featured in the speculative lists created by Vatican watchers in the days preceding the election, and the first pope elected from outside Europe in more than a millennium and the first from the Americas.
Dressed in white vestments and adorning a crucifix around his neck, the 266th pontiff and first Jesuit Pope in the Church’s 2000 year history who was elected by his 114 brother cardinals, waved to the crowds who had gather to meet him.
The inauguration of Pope Francis is set to happen in the next few days, and as such it is thought that Ireland’s Taoiseach Enda Kenny will miss this as he and Eamon Gilmore have prior engagements at the White House for the annual St Patrick’s Day visit. Instead Ireland shall be represented by Finance Minister Michael Noonan and President Michael D Higgins, who will journey from Ireland to Vatican in the coming days.