On March 13th "Habemus Papam" (we have a pope) was announced at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, Italy as thousands watched white smoke rise from the roof of the Sistine Chapel. The new leader of the Catholic Church is now the Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio who has taken the name of Pope Francis. As the announcement was made, Chicagoans joined the 1.2 billion or so Catholics throughout the world in celebration.
Chicago's Holy Name Cathedral put up gold and white buntings on the outside entrance to symbolize the joyous occasion, while people inside broke from traditional Lenten somber to celebrate a more joyful mass. Chicagoans like Ana Paula Panzarini, a native Brazilian who now lives in Chicago, expressed their happiness to waiting local new reporters after mass. Those not attending mass celebrated wherever they were, such as the Argentinian owner of Buenos Aires Deli, who popped an early cork of champaign yesterday afternoon at his establishment.
"He's from Argentina, true, but he has an Italian background so it's like, yes, that's who we are now, that's what the world is. We are all from all over the world. We are all one church, so I'm just very happy with the new pope." - Ana Paula Panzarini
This joyous occasion isn't only for Catholics. Though everything about this occasion evolves around the Catholic faith, Chicagoans would be interested to know that their city shines brighter with Pope Francis. Why is that? Well, the fact that he is the first pope ever to come from Latin America will certainly light a unique fuse of enthusiasm to approximately 28% or Chicago's population, who happens to be Hispanic. Moreover, he is from Argentina, a culture well known throughout Chicago. If you're not aware of the Argentinian presence, just venture out and visit its Chicagoland culinary delights.
If you're in the city, make sure to check out these places: 1) Tango Sur steakhouse, located in the Lakeview neighborhood. 2) 5411 Empanadas, also in the Lakeview neighborhood. 3) 5411 Store, also in the Lakeview neighborhood. 4) El Nandu restaurant, located in the Logan Square neighborhood. 5) Folklore Argentine Grill steakhouse, located in the Wicker Park neighborhood. 6) Ñ lounge & restaurant, located in the Avondale neighborhood. 7) Buenos Aires Deli, located in the Cragin neighborhood. 8) Caminito Argentinian Grill, located in the Lincolnpark neighborhood. If you're in the suburbs, try: 1) empanadUS, located in Riverside or 2) Las Pampas, located in Elmwood Park.
Another interesting thing that makes Pope Francis special in the eyes of Chicago is the fact that he is the first pope to come from the Jesuit order of priests. Chicago's very own Loyola University, a Jesuit Catholic university that prides itself as a diverse community seeking God in all things and is dedicated to knowledge in the service of humanity, now has a Jesuit pope. University supporters, students and alumni now have more reason to feel good about their university and its origins.
If that weren't enough, how about the name that Cardinal Bergoglio chose. Pope Francis is the first to adopt a new, unused and non-composed regnal name since Pope Lando way back in the year 913. Oh, and for the record, Vatican officials point out that its just "Francis" without the numerical one. His name puts Chicagoans in the elite position to be able to say that their cardinal, Cardinal Francis George, and Pope Francis share the same names. In a recent Chicago Tribune article, Cardinal Francis George said he was surprised of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio's decision to call himself Pope Francis after St. Francis of Assisi, Goerge's patron saint.
"That was a complete surprise he would choose that name . . . The choice of him wasn't as surprising as his choice of a name . . . I said: 'Santo Padre, me llamo Francisco tambien. Holy Father I'm Francis too.' He knew who I was." - Cardinal Francis George
For those who don't know about St. Francis of Assisi, it would be worth the time to learn more about him. Among many things, he is most known for rebuilding the Catholic Church and for his humility and support for the poor and needy. As we move forward, let us hope and pray that the city of Chicago becomes inspired by our new pope so that more people seek to help each other in solidarity, especially those in need.