The crowd screamed, cheered and waved flags Tuesday as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (search) of Germany, elected the new pope, made his first balcony appearance and addressed the faithful as "dear brothers and sisters."
Soon after Pope Benedict XVI (search) began speaking, the crowd fell silent for a moment, listening. Some wept in joy. Then the crowd began chanting again: "Viva il Papa!" — "Long live the pope!"
"We love you!" screamed Hans Gonzalez, 31, from San Francisco, pumping his arms in the air.
Tens of thousands of people rushed toward an already packed St. Peter's Square (search) when the announcement came that a pope had been selected. Some broke into a run.
"I'm super happy," said Thomas Weber, 22, of Hettange, France. "I didn't care who it was, because he is guided by the Holy Spirit."
Only minutes earlier, the uncertainty had been agonizing as the crowd in St. Peter's Square waited for a second day, watching the narrow chimney atop the Sistine Chapel to learn whether there would be a new pontiff. White smoke would signal a new pope; black would mean no choice had been made.
When the smoke went up shortly before 6 p.m., it seemed white but no one was sure.
People said "white," and "black," then some began to chant "it's white, it's white," and a group of Brazilians started jumping up and down, pushing their fists in the air.
"Habemus papam, habemus papam," chanted Daomario Barbalho, 26, from Natal, Brazil. The Latin phrase means "we have a pope."
As the minutes ticked by the uncertainly grew, and at 5:55 p.m. Amy Turnipseed, 21, from California, said: "It looks really white, but I'm not sure."
There was a brief flutter when the bells rang at 6 p.m., but the cheers died down when they stopped ringing. Minutes later, they began in earnest and the crowd erupted.
"Oh my gosh, this is insane," Turnipseed said.
Elsewhere in Rome, people started heading toward Vatican City from all directions, many of them running to try to catch a glimpse of the new pope as he made a balcony appearance.
Some priests and seminarians in clerical garb ran. Nuns pulled up their long skirts and jogged toward the Vatican. Drivers honked their horns and some people began closing stores early and joined the crowds.
Police immediately tried to direct traffic, but to little effect.