One year of Pope Francis: A priest reflects

(CNN) A few days ago, I was coming home from school with a Polish priest. As we walked, he blurted out, “The smell of spring!”

We were surrounded by the scent of freshly cut grass. I looked around and realized that indeed spring had come; here and there, a number of trees had begun to bud, and the lowly but beaming margarita flower was in full bloom. One thought immediately came to my mind: It has been a year since the election of Pope Francis.

It had been raining all afternoon that day in March 2013. Despite the bad weather, many had come to St. Peter’s Square. As usual, there were flags from different nations, singing and shouting in different languages — all this had always been a staple at St. Peter’s Square. But that evening was different: People had come to see what the chimney would produce after it yielded black smoke on two earlier papal votes. I was with the throng, among those who were closest to the basilica. It was a scene of joyful anticipation.

It was already dark when white smoke poured from the chimney, telling everyone that a new pope has been chosen. Spontaneous applause and cheers filled the square, and then, as if it had been deliberately orchestrated, the sky began to clear and the evening became pleasant, cool and cloudless. Then came the tolling of the bells, the entry of the army of Swiss guards, the music played by the brass band and lights from the balcony.

A few more minutes and then appeared an elderly cardinal speaking the words: “Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum HABEMUS PAPAM Georgium Marium Bergoglio qui sibi nomen imposuit Franciscum.”

There was a momentary silence. The names were not anticipated: neither Bergoglio, for he was not considered among the strong contenders, nor Francis, for no pope had previously taken that name. Suddenly, great applause followed this short lull. There were roars of approval all around, shouts of “Viva il Papa!” I distinctly heard a young priest affirming, “Francis! Oh, this is revolutionary!” [More]