(Photo: Reuters//Osservatore Romano)
One of the former prime candidates to succeed Pope Benedict XVI, the Archbishop of Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, has revealed that two divinely inspired signs led the Roman Catholic Conclave in March to elect Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina as the new pope.
Bergoglio, who chose the name Francis when he was elected by his fellow cardinals on March 13, made history when he became the first Latin American to serve as pope.
Although the decision process and the going-ons within Conclave in the days leading up to the vote has been kept a secret, Schönborn recently shared that some "strong signs" made it clear that the former Archbishop of Buenos Aries was the "the chosen one" for the position, The Telegraph reported.
"It was a tremendous experience of the Holy Spirit," Schönborn revealed.
"We were driven by the Holy Spirit to this man – he was sitting in the last corner of the Sistine Chapel: This man he is the chosen one."
The Archbishop of Vienna said that one of the special signs occurred within the Conclave, which he is not allowed to speak about, but the second sign happened outside the Basilica when he met a couple of Latin Americans before mass.
"The woman whispered in my ear 'Bergoglio', and it hit me really: if these people say Bergoglio, that's an indication of the Holy Spirit," Schönborn said.
"And I'm sure many of us have received similar signs during the Conclave, it wouldn't have been possible to have this election so soon and so rapidly."
The Cardinal's comments were made at an Anglican conference in London, where he also praised the new Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, adding that he had a "strange similarity" to the new Pope.
"But it looks like a little miracle that he became the Archbishop, so I think the Lord has given us a great sign through these two elections and other signs and what I have deeply in my heart … it is as if he would say to the world 'come home, I wait for you'."
Pope Francis has proved to be a popular leader so far among the Catholic faithful, and has insisted on living modestly and humbly, much like he did as an Archbishop in Argentina. Most recently, he canonized 800 Italian martyrs who were beheaded in the 15th century for refusing to convert to Islam.
"Let us look on the new saints in the light of the word of God proclaimed, a word that invited us to be faithful to Christ, even unto martyrdom; a word that recalled to us the urgency and the beauty of bringing Christ and his Gospel to everyone; a word that spoke to us about the witness of charity, without which even martyrdom and mission lose their Christian savour," Pope Francis said.