A historic moment happened right before their eyes. It's a moment that was anticipated for weeks.
It's one many said they will never forget.
Alice Rockwell said, "I cannot put the words together for how excited I am for this. They just can't form."
Monsignor Brian Brownsey said, "It's good - almost immediately I have this sense of it's over and we have, once again, a direction."
Peoria's Bishop Daniel Jenky said he's excited about the many firsts Pope Francis will bring to the Vatican. "He's been the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he's served in the congregation for religious as the religious orders in Rome, he's a member of the Society of Jesus, and there's never been a Jesuit Pope."
Pope Francis will also be the first Latin American Pope. That's another element followers said is very exciting.
Meghan Swanson said, "I'm so excited the idea that we have a new Holy Father that is not from Europe that has expanded and gone to South America, I think this is extraordinary."
Brownsey said, "The first Pope from Latin America. I know that Latin Americans are very faithful people and I'm looking to forward to seeing what happens."
With the new devotion and appreciation, Jenky said it's another step in the history of the church. "It's an exciting moment for Catholic believers. We view the Holy Father as the successor of St. Peter, the Christ on earth."