2013-03-21 / Front Page

In Rome, the Disciples Gather

Olivia Cunningham
Special to the Courier


Crowds thronged to St. Peter’s Square on Tuesday for the Pope’s installation. 
Olivia Cunningham Crowds thronged to St. Peter’s Square on Tuesday for the Pope’s installation. Olivia Cunningham In the Biblical account of Pentecost, the disciple Luke describes the chaos and joy of the Holy Spirit coming upon the followers of Christ, allowing them to understand each other despite their different languages.

As I packed into St. Peter’s Square on Tuesday with over a million other pilgrims, here to watch the installation of Pope Francis, it was this image that came to mind. The crowd recited prayers in unison in Latin; in between, there were whispers and conversations in countless languages. Flags from Argentina and other nations waved in the breeze.

Perhaps because this pontificate, unlike most, did not begin with the death of the former pope, the first week of Francis’ papacy has been marked with overwhelming joy here in Rome. From his first words to the world on St. Peter’s balcony last Wednesday night to his Angelus address on Sunday, Francis has kept us laughing. The closing words of his Sunday blessing were “Happy Sunday and have a nice lunch,” which sent a ripple of laughter through St. Peter’s Square.

“The Sunday meal, it is very symbolic, no?” a professor remarked later.

In the meantime, Rome continues to experience a unique kind of Pentecost, as disciples from around the world join together to catch a glimpse of the 266th successor of Peter.

Cunningham is a sophomore at St. John’s University who is studying in Rome this semester; she’s the daughter of Courier editor Douglas Cunningham. Her blog is at livlovelaugh.com.

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