A group of seven Cayuga High School faculty members and students recently returned from a 10-day tour of Italy, during which they we able witness the election of the Catholic Church’s new leader Pope Francis I while in Rome.
Traveling with the group were Deanna Frye, Ron Acevedo, Josh Wright, Erin Rhone, Donna Brittain, Hunter Brittain and Marilyn Avila. Touring from north to south Italy, the seven visited major cities like Venice, Florence and Rome, stopping along the way at smaller towns such as Verona, San Gimignano, MonteCassino, Pompeii and Sorrento.
“During our tour of Italy, we were very disappointed to be told that we would not be able to visit the Sistine Chapel since the cardinals would be holding their election process there,” CHA art teacher Frye said. “We were in Rome for a short amount of time so we knew the chances of seeing any smoke was slim.”
The group was scheduled to visit the Vatican on the second day of the election — they missed the morning black smoke by about 20 minutes — but continued on with a tour of the Vatican Museum and St. Peters Basilica instead.
“People were gathering in the square throughout the day even through the cold and rain,” Fry said. “We had some free time to roam around the square and watch interviews from the media and see people from all over the world.”
Group leader Frye, along with the other group leaders and tour director, had to make a decision about staying to see the afternoon smoke. The students were cold and wet, so leaders decided to allow the group to warm up on the tour bus and travel to another site and miss the 5 p.m. election.
“After visiting another landmark of Rome, we begin to make our way back through traffic, to the square,” Frye said. “By this time the square was full and no one was allowed in. We found a spot outside the gates that had a good view.
“We were there for about five minutes and smoke started coming out of the Sistine Chapel,” she continued. “Everyone was so excited. People were screaming, ‘It’s white! It’s white!’
“It was very emotional to see the white smoke and to feel that much joy from thousands of people around us.”
The group stayed until the smoke ended and they had to leave.
“As we were leaving, we saw priests and nuns running toward the square along with hundreds of people from the area,” Frye said. “We were no longer bitter about missing out on the Sistine Chapel because we were able to be there for this historical event. It was definitely the highlight of the tour for everyone.”
The CHS group would also like to thank Anadarko for their donation to offset costs for the trip.
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