The bells at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul in Providence rang steadily for about an hour Wednesday after white smoke pouring from a Sistine Chapel chimney announced the Catholic Church had a new pope.
From when the white smoke first appeared until about 3 p.m., the cathedral bells let the Providence community know a successor had been chosen.
At diocesan offices, Bishop Thomas Tobin and other faithful Catholics patiently waited to see their new leader.
"It's very hard to describe how special this is," Tobin said, fighting back tears.
But it took no time for them to rejoice and pray for Pope Francis, formerly Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina. He is the first pope from the Americas.
"This is truly a historic moment, very equivalent to when Pope John Paul (II) was elected, the first non-Italian in hundreds of years," Tobin said. "This is a game-changer."
Tobin said he can't wait to see what new direction a pope from the new world will take the Church.
"It's springtime for the Church. It's a new beginning. We know we've had trials in tribulations in the past. The work of the Church goes on," Tobin said.
Members of the community said it's a special moment to be a part of history.
"Important. He can doeverything good because, you know, we needed the new papa," Magala Rijo said.