Sometimes I get this grand idea that Rome will make me more sophisticated and assured; then humility sneaks up and whispers in my ear. One such instance happened the morning before Papa Francesco’s (aka Pope Francis’) Installation Mass.
Someone was sweet enough to offer me breakfast – literally sweet enough, as I was given a choice between a Nutella cornetto (a horn-shaped, filled pastry) or a ciambella (an otherwise plain donut rolled in sugar). I quite fittingly have become attached to Nutella in Rome, so with little consideration I chose the Nutella cornetto in the midst of a large group of people ready to rush their way into St. Peter’s Square.
As soon as I got a couple good bites, rush they did. And rush I did. And, I guess you could say, the Nutella rushed only slightly more slowly out of the cornetto, all over my right hand. The hazel nut and chocolate delight oozed into my palm, through my fingers and over my ring.
I was a mess. I had only a bit of a napkin, my tongue and some hand sanitizer. So I cleaned up as best I could once we were in place for the Mass, caught in between the annoyance of sticky fingers and the hilarity of my situation. Soon after, Papa Francesco rode by in the popemobile, without bulletproof glass between him and the surrounding, cheering throng. At one point, he stepped down to greet people and bless babies.
The papacy may seem to some to be merely politics and power, but if I’ve learned one thing from my thus-far unique semester in Rome, it’s that Catholic people love their pope – and not because of either of those things. The pope loves people. Benedict did and Francis does. Francis is a simple man of virtue called to an extraordinary job. He speaks simply, he acts simply and he’s chosen the name of a simple, yet extraordinary saint.
I think he would have handled the Nutella situation with grace and humor, and I’m excited for his pontificate and the rest of my Nutella-eating time with him in Rome.