Carter Boyd of Shreveport The Very Rev. Peter Mangum & poster thanking retired pope
Photo of St. Peter's Square
taken by Carter Boyd from
the top of the cupola at
St. Peter's Bacilica in the Vatican
A Shreveport native and a local church leader are in Rome today, and though one is an ordained priest, and the other a college freshman, both are in awe of the process of choosing a new pope, who, in addition to being the Bishop of Rome, is to Catholics around the world, the Vicar of Jesus Christ on Earth.
The Very Rev. Peter Mangum, rector of St. John Berchman Cathedral in Shreveport, traveled to Italy earlier this week in order to be among the thousands of Catholics in St. Peter's Square, as the College of Cardinals, sequestered in the Sistine Chapel of St. Peter's Basilica, began their deliberations to elect a new pope.
Also there is Shreveport native and 2012 Loyola Prep graduate, Carter Boyd, a freshman at the University of Notre Dame. And though there's probably no place else in the world Boyd would rather be, his actual presence in Rome this week was planned last fall when he accepted an invitation to join two priests and 15 other Notre Dame on a Pilgrimage Retreat.
When the trip was planned in November, there was no way of knowing Boyd and his companions would be in the crowd at the Vatican when the College of Cardinals went into the papal conclave and took the first vote.
His parents, Doctors Carter and Bernadette Boyd were in Rome the day Pope Benedict announced his retirement, so were especially pleased their son is able to be at the Vatican at this profound moment in Catholic history.
Earlier today, Boyd emailed his parents, telling them he attended Mass this morning. "St. Peters was very crowded. It has been raining all evening, but just being here is just a blessing," he wrote. "St. Peters was gorgeous, as always, and (it's) very exciting to be back in Rome. I can really feel the presence of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit here at the Vatican," the young man concluded.
In a telephone interview from inside the Vatican when just before the first papal vote was taken, Mangum described the throngs of people to NBC6 News. "I'm standing in St. Peter's Square right now, looking at St. Peter's Basilica and looking right up at the Sistine Chapel, the chimney," he said.
"They just finished swearing in all the Cardinals. People are standing all around, it's wet, it's cold, it's rainy, umbrellas are everywhere. It's quite exciting as we're waiting to see the color of black or white (smoke from the chimney), and this amazing atmosphere around here."
Within the hour after Magnum spoke with NBC6 News, black smoke billowed from the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel, meaning the first vote had been taken and a pope had not been selected.
It will take 77 votes of the 115 Cardinals voting to elect a new pope. The Cardinals will remain sequestered until the new pope is selected. Each time a ballot is taken and there are not 77 votes for one candidate, the ballots are burned and chemicals are added to turn the smoke black. When 77 or more votes are cast for one man, no chemicals will be added, and white smoke will billow from the chimney above the Sistine Chapel and shouts of "Viva la Papa" ('long live the pope") will be heard throughout the Vatican, the world.
Mangum said there had been much speculation on who the future pope might be, musing that when he arrived in Rome, he did not think there was even a chance for an American to become pope, but now, he's not so sure. He said he's heard many favorable things about Cardinals Timothy Dolan (New York) and Timothy O'Malley (Boston); but he also said he believes Brazil's Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz is a contender, as well as also Canada's Marc Oulellet.
The next vote will be taken at 8 a.m. Shreveport time,
You can keep up with Father Peter Mangum on Facebook by clicking on "Cathedral of St. John Berchman" Facebook page. He is posting regularly and sending photos as well.