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When Heaven meets Earth

March 12, 2013

This morning, Cardinal Turcotte entered in Saint Martha's House at 8:30 a.m. to take part in the conclave. The Cardinal is a meticulous man. His luggage had been packed the day before, and he was up and ready to go quite early, so as to avoid the morning rush. I've even inherited of his legendary peanut butter jar!

Try to picture a hundred or so cardinals, not to mention those who will not participate in the conclave, all arriving with bag and baggage, almost all of them more or less at the same time. I feel like if I were in a replay of The Love Boat. Draped in their red liturgical vestments, the cardinals go through some serious security checks upon entering.  

However, the most comical part of this whole operation takes place in the basement, where the luggage must be inspected and X-rayed. You may have experienced yourself security checks at an international airport. Most certainly you remember the hustle and bustle of the crowds of passengers. Transpose all this under a cloudy and stormy Roman sky, spice it up with a regiment of attendants in cassocks pulling suitcases, struggling to force them into the "machina", top it off with arms thrown up in the air, and you will have a general idea of the atmosphere that prevails there.  

Finally, everything falls into place and we can cross the square and make it inside the basilica-the masters of ceremonies' undisputed realm. Nothing is improvised. Everything is in its place, and the sacristan nuns keep a close watch. The entrance procession moves off at 10 a.m. sharp. The mass inaugurating the conclave begins. The basilica is full, so is Saint Peter's Square where nature is going wild again. Rain falls thick. We even hear resounding thunder. It's more than enough to leave wondering all those who try to see bad omens in these whims of weather. However, like many pilgrims have stressed out to reporters, "God is stronger than rain, hail and thunder."  

Tonight, the smoke is black.

Richard Saint-Louis, d.p. 


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