Like so many milestones in life, often the first comment on a big birthday or anniversary (or perhaps any birthday or anniversary!) is, “Wow, where have the years gone!”

In a way, that is how I feel today. Where have these ten years gone? Perhaps I feel that way because it was only several months ago that we lost Benedict XVI, thus we feel closer, so to speak, to a previous papacy.

There are many days in a person’s life that are not easily forgotten. For me, of course, covering the Vatican for so many years, an event like the election of a new pope is definitely a stand-out event, memorable hour by hour, if not minute by minute!

The conclave to elect the successor to Benedict XVI started on Tuesday, March 12, 2013 and ended, as we all know, with the evening ballot of Wednesday, March 13. I was scheduled to be on a live EWTN presentation at 8 PM that evening but spent most of the day running around, talking to people in the know, trying to learn what I could about some of the cardinals known to be “papabile,” that is, “electables.” I was also researching some interesting stories about conclaves, the greatest number of ballots, the smallest number etc.

Quite unlike today, all these ten years later, with wonderful delft-blue skies, and a penetrating sun, even in mid-month, March 13, 2013 was a dull, cold, rainy day.

I wanted to be in the square about 6 pm or so as I knew that could be about the time we’d see the result of an evening ballot, maybe even white, from the chimney above the Sistine chapel that would, of course, indicate a new pope.

Shortly after 7, I knew I’d have to start making my way to the EWTN studios. In any normal circumstance that would have been a two-minute walk from where I was standing in St. Peter’s Square. I was now tackling the impossible, trying to go counter-current, trying to exit the square when people were pouring in by the hundreds, if not more, every minute!

I held up my media credentials and told the people in several languages that I had to get to a television studio and would they please excuse me. I did make it to our rooftop studio about 15 minutes before airtime at 8 PM. If I recall correctly, the white smoke appeared shortly after eight and it probably was 8:20 or so when this white- robed figure appeared on the balcony of Saint Peter’s Basilica, and we found out that the cardinals had just elected a colleague from Latin America, a Jesuit, who had taken the name of Francis!

Stunned silence marked our TV set for seconds, as it did for the folks in Saint Peter’s Square. That silence then erupted into shouts of joy and enthusiastic applause for the new pontiff whose first words were “Buona sera! (Good evening”).” He charmed the crowd and, in a first-ever gesture for a newly-elected pope, bowed his head and asked for the prayers of the faithful. Something he has done on an almost daily basis for ten years!

The rest is history as we all know from the countless media reports, from television specials around the world, and of course, from EWTN with its many invited guests, and commentators in Rome, those who lived in Rome, and worked at the Vatican and other guests, in particular from the American church.

The first question was: Who is Cardinal Bergoglio, this new pope named Francis? His was not a name at the top of many lists of “papabile,” and therefore not as much research had been done about this Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Buenos Aires Argentina. That’s when something called wi-if comes into play and the research teams scramble to get online and look for some immediate answers to that question.

Pope Francis I appears for the first time on the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican March 13. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected the 266th Roman Catholic pontiff. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) (March 13, 2013) See POPE-ELECT March 13, 2013.

One of the first things we learned was that Pope Francis had Italian roots as his grandfather had brought the family to Argentina from northern Italy.

As the evening went on, we learned more about this so-called mystery man, a man whose name millions would come to know in these past ten years.

Oddly enough, one of the first things that had to be corrected in some of the media stories about this pope – not only that night, but for months to come – was that he was not Francis I.  He would not be – will not be – Francis I until there is a Francis II! The same thing happened when the first John Paul was elected: he only became John Paul I when John Paul II was elected.

And here we are, ten years later! The question I asked earlier comes to mind: where have these ten years gone?

I will not spend time here analyzing this decade. Many a writer, many a pundit, many a commentator, many priests and bishops, have written perceptive, challenging, and thoughtful commentaries about these past ten years.

For me, this decade has been interesting, stimulating and challenging. Before Francis, I had spent decades working for the Vatican or covering it under Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI, so how could I not in these past ten years make some sort of comparison as the Francis papacy developed.

I have probably answered that question and others over the years on this very page.

Right now, I wish Pope Francis the very best: I wish him health and vigor and the Lord’s choicest blessings. I know that what he wants above is peace. May that elusive state become the Lord’s greatest gift to our Holy Father.

Pope Francis celebrated the 10th anniversary of his papacy. He said Mass with cardinals in Santa Marta chapel (no homily was released) and prepared what Vatican media called a “popecast” (in Italian: Francesco: per i miei dieci anni da Papa, regalatemi la pace – Vatican News

English-language Vatican news had a number of sites dedicated to Francis’ 10th anniversary: News from the Vatican – News about the Church – Vatican News




On March 13, Pope Francis will be celebrating ten years of his pontificate. To highlight this milestone anniversary in a “viral” manner, the Digital Synod has launched a special online map featuring virtual lighted candles representing the prayers of the faithful worldwide for him.

According to a press release, “The Petrine ministry is a great grace that Jesus granted to His Church and we must always be grateful for it. Therefore, prayer must be our best gift, so that God may support the service of the one He has chosen for this ministry because on this rock He builds His Church in time and history.”

Anyone who wishes to join the initiative will find an invitation on the website to pray one or more Hail Marys. “In the end we will send the Holy Father the map with the  ‘little candles’ that represent the Hail Marys that are prayed for him, thanking God for His Mercy.” Say a prayer (decimus-annus.org) Change language in upper right corner. (Vaticannews)