Meet the Correspondent: Omar Jaramillo > Berlin$show=/search/label/Omar%20Jaramillo

"I was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where I studied architecture. I moved to Kassel (Germany) in 1999 to accomplish a master degree. Although I have always drawn and paint, it was not until I started studying in the Uni-Kassel, that I started keeping a travel sketchbook. I had a teacher there who used to do a lot of sketches when he travelled on university excursions. When he retired, I helped to organize an exhibition of his sketches. He brought a huge box full of sketchbooks he had filled since he was an architecture student. I spent a whole day selecting the most interesting drawings. It was a wonderful experience that opened my eyes to a new world. In the last 10 years I have the feeling of being in a long journey. I like to discover the cities where I live, to understand why a place is the way it is and what makes it different and unique from others. Drawing is for me a way to learn to love a place, to become part of it. I like to draw architecture but I am more attracted to urban scenery, portraying how people live in the city. Since I’m a foreigner, everything that locals find normal and taken-for-granted, for me is exotic. I always carry a small watercolor travel set from Windsor and Newton and my sketchbook in my bag. I always thought that drawing was a solitary experience until I found Urban Sketchers. It was amazing to find so many people doing the same thing. It is a great place to share!" • Omar's blog. • Omar's art on flickr. • Omar's website.

Meet the Correspondent: Luis Ruiz > Malaga, Spain$show=/search/label/Luis%20Ruiz

Popeless Situation


The Pope has announced that he will step down at the end of the month and thus, another pope will be chosen in Rome, in the Sistine Chapel, by Cardinals gathering from all around the world. The process is known as a conclave. Behind closed doors, four votes will be held each day—twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon. A successful vote will be signaled by white smoke from the chapel's chimney. Every effort is made for a quick, smooth transition of leadership.

But the humble city of Viterbo, sixty miles north of Rome, know popes were not always elected in Rome. Sheepishly, perhaps, they know that current tradition of strictly-ruled elections was caused by a particularly inefficient election that they hosted.

In the 13th century, Rome was a place of discord and disease, and a number of popes moved up to Viterbo, to escape the mess. At that time, when a pope died, the successor could be elected at the place of death. So, Viterbo had the great distinction of having hosted the election of five popes. It was the last of the five elections, however, which changed papal election history.

When Pope Clement IV died in Viterbo in 1268, cardinals gathered there to elect his successor. A two-thirds vote was needed, but very hard to get. At first, the Viterbese were proud to host the election. Cardinals stayed all over the city and gathered once a day to vote. It was exciting to have the dignitaries in their midst. However, day after day, week after week, no settlement was made between two competing interests. This took its toll on the local population who were hosting and feeding these guests and their entourages. 

Weeks turned into months, so to hasten the process, the cardinals were pushed to move into the Papal Palace and forced to work together behind locked doors (cum clave—"locked up"—where we get the term "conclave"). When that didn't work, the Viterbese reduced the food and wine supplies to the palace, hoping to create a less hospitable environment.

After 33 months, the locals then resorted to removing part of the roof of the building and exposing them to the weather! They stated (or joked) that would "let the Holy Spirit in." Very soon after, six cardinals were selected to settle the issue in two days. It took only one. Pope Gregory X was elected, concluding the longest papal election in history. 

One of Pope Gregory's acts was to never let that happen again. Rules were established which have stayed virtually the same to this day.  

For my drawing, I sat facing the Duomo, at the entrance to Piazza San Lorenzo, home of the Papal Palace, where the longest election in papal history—two years and nine months—was held.

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