Cupich Arrives in Rome Days Before Being Elevated to Cardinal

Archbishop Blase Cupich arrived in Rome Thursday just days before he is elevated to the prestigious position of Cardinal, making him the first American bishop to be appointed by Pope Francis.

Cupich will be Chicago’s 7th Cardinal, joining only 120 men in assisting the pope and shaping the direction of the Catholic Church. They are also the electors of the next pope and are considered the “senate of the church.”

Cupich's arrival at the Vatican caused quite a stir, with some even asking for autographs.

"It's a bit much," he said. 

The Vatican is expecting Roman Catholics from across the world this weekend for the significant event, which also falls on the same weekend as the end of The Year of Mercy. Among the travelers is nearly 300 Chicagoans looking to witness the upcoming installation.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is leading a delegation of elected officials and civic leaders.

“For Catholics, it’s a very, very significant event,” Emanuel said in an exclusive television interview with NBC 5.

Cupich succeeds Cardinal Francis George, who passed away in April 2015 and was considered by the Vatican to be the lead American Catholic Cardinal.

The consistory, or coming together, comes at an interesting time for Americans, just days after the presidential election, with faith and politics at times appearing to collide.

Joining the mayor’s delegation is Gov. Bruce Rauner, Sen. Dick Durbin, Congressman Mike Quigley, City Clerk Susana Mendoze and about 300 others. City Hall also invited two high school students and their teachers from Cristo Rey and Chris the King high schools.

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