We don't often think of a Pope on his knees, begging forgiveness. In this wooden relief, Peter is doing just that, of Jesus' mother, having betrayed him three times before the cock crew. The relief is one of three carved a few decades ago, as the retable of a side altar in the little chapelle Notre-Dame du Carrefour at Montredon, just North of the River Lot: I passed through when walking last May.
We must be careful what we wish for, but it's tempting to put together a "wanted" list when thinking about the coming conclave. Someone who is willing to ask forgiveness for too much past secrecy; for the Church's treatment of women; for toleration of injustice, and for a presumption of white superiority? An enabler of bishops within their own jurisdictions? A pricker of Vatican Curial bubbles? A putter-aside of fripperies and too much ceremonial? A servant of unity between Christians, and between the Abrahamic faiths? An innovator in the field of virtual communication between Catholics worldwide - convener, even, of a Twitter Synod? A leader who puts concern for the Created world at the heart of his ministry? One could go on, but you will no doubt be already saying "Get real!"