By Mike Bush
ROME (KSDK) - There is anticipation in the air here in Rome and by Tuesday at this time, St. Peters Square will be much more crowded as the cardinals begin the papal conclave inside the Sistine Chapel.
The world's 1.2 billion Catholics will be watching closely, but none more closely than some St. Louisans living just steps away from where NewsChannel 5's Mike Bush is located.
The Pontifical North American College has been around for more than 150 years. It used to be over by the Trevi Fountain but it moved just steps from Vatican City.
It was back in the 1850s that the pope decided to start all these different colleges so that seminarians from around the world would come and live close to the pope and grow in their love for the pope.
So in 1859 the American bishops got together and opened the North American College.
The Archbishop of St. Louis selects just a handful of men studying to be priests to come, and one of them is Deacon Chris Seiler from Maryland Heights.
Seiler is very familiar with the history and the meaning of this place and all they've been through since the American bishops opened the doors back in 1859.
"Since then it's been preparing young men to go back to United States to serve as parish priests and the people of God back there. It's a great tradition there are many good holy priests and even cardinals and bishops who have gone there before but now it's actually pretty awesome because we are at full capacity. There's 250 guys who are studying with us. Just men who I think are going to be great parish priests," said Deacon Seiler.
Deacon Seiler is a transitional deacon, which is a step below becoming a priest. In fact he is very close. He's coming home to be ordained in May, and like all of us he will be keeping a close eye on this historic time in Vatican City.