ABERDEEN, SD -
Anyone visiting Rome at the beginning of March could witness history as the Catholic Church chooses a new pope.
Before Pope Benedict XVI stepped down, he issued a document that allows church leaders to meet earlier than they initially planned in order to replace him.
A Northern State University student will be in Rome that first week of March.
"I'm guessing with the pope resigning, there are going to be people everywhere," student Conner Mattern said.
Mattern signed up for a pilgrimage to Rome through a Catholic institute. He expected to see a variety of churches and other items in the city. He never expected to witness anything more historic than that.
"It took me a couple days really. I just kind of heard he's resigning. And I'm like 'OK pope's resigning,'" Mattern said. "And then we got the itinerary and I'm like, 'oh, we're going to be in Rome during that time.'"
Because the pope just stepped down, Mattern doesn't expect the conclave of Cardinals will elect a new pope while he's there. But it could be close.
"I'm praying for it, yes. Whether it happens or not I highly doubt it. If it does, that would be crazy," Mattern said.
Because it's also a cooler time of year, Mattern expected there wouldn't be big crowds with him in Rome when he originally signed up for his spring break trip. A very crowded Vatican City may be one of many unexpected memories he'll bring back to South Dakota.
"Very excited and definitely looking forward to it," Mattern said.
Other students from South Dakota will be in Rome with the same group as Mattern.
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