VATICAN CITY -- University of St. Thomas senior Anna DeMarais had a front seat to history as she witnessed Pope Francis emerge from the balcony in Vatican City.

She's part of a Catholic Studies program in Rome this semester, along with more than 30 other St. Thomas students, including 15 seminarians. She could only liken the crowds to the "State Fair."

"It was like no other event that I have been at before, from the roar of people when the smoke came out, to the mad rush of umbrellas and cameras as people triedto get closer, to the anxious waiting for a an hour after the smoke until we saw the pope, to the absolute silence of thousands of people when the new Pope asked us to take a moment to pray for himself, Benedict, and the world," she said.

DeMarais said she first noticed the Pope's humility and people skills, wishing the crowd a good afternoon and evening.

"He was joking that the Cardinals went to the end of the world to find a new pope and here he was. People were laughing saying to each other, 'We have a funny Pope!' He then reverently led the crowd in prayer, humbly accepted his position and wished us goodnight as he went to pray more," said DeMarais.

She will be abroad until May and said she will always remember sharing that moment in history with people from around the world.

After graduation, she hopes to work with St. Paul's Outreach, an organization connecting college students with their Catholic faith.

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