AUSTIN (KXAN) - When she was planning her honeymoon in Italy in 2005, Holly Kyle had no idea she would be in Rome during an historic moment in the Catholic Church.
"I felt the energy in the air," Kyle recalled. "As a Catholic, it was exciting."
On the last leg of her trip, Kyle and her husband rushed to St. Peter's Square when they noticed the white smoke, signaling that a new pope had been chosen.
"Traffic wasn't moving anywhere because everybody had the same idea, everybody was trying to get to the square," Kyle said. "After a few blocks, we got out of the taxi cab and just decided to run with everybody else."
They joined thousands in the crowd for the moment Pope Benedict XVI stepped out on to the balcony to greet the faithful.
"It was just a really profound moment as a Catholic and being able to be part of it at that point in time, and now it's making me emotional," Kyle said fighting back tears all these years later. "It was special."
She recalled being surprised by the Cardinals' choice of the new Pope.
"I think there were a lot of Catholics last time that kind of hoped for someone a little more contemporary than Pope Benedict, especially younger generations," she said. "There was also concern about his age. We thought, 'OK, here's an opportunity to bring in someone who's a little bit younger who can be in the position for many years to come.'"
But more than seven years later, Kyle said she was not surprised to hear the pope had decided to step down for health reasons, although she recognizes the historic significance.
"I think it's just very shocking to a lot of Catholics," she said. "I was speaking to my mom about it earlier, and she said a pope hasn't resigned since the 1400s. I mean, this doesn't happen."
Kyle said she looks forward to the future of the Church.
"When it comes to the person that we choose to lead and guide our Church and our religion in general worldwide, we want it to be someone who has an open heart and an open mind and an open spirit to guide us and lead us," she said.
The College of Cardinals will hold a conclave to elect the next pope. The new Catholic leader is expected to be named by Easter.
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