Is there any connection between the country of origin of Popes and nearby large gatherings of Catholics or Councils?
The short answer is no.
Any connection should be considered as a mere coincidence.
It is true that Christians, generally speaking, invoke the Holy Spirit on special occasions. Whether they do so or not, however, the Holy Spirit acts always: powerfully, incisively, silently, inspiring prayer, freedom, love, conversion, variety, unity. And there is no reason to think that the Spirit will not act during the days coming up to the conclave and during the conclave itself. With an important proviso, however.
The effectiveness of the Holy Spirit's action depends on human collaboration, intelligence and effort. And we humans are perfectly capable of resisting the Spirit, of saddening the Spirit.
In "Universi Dominici Gregis" Pope St. John Paul II wrote: "I earnestly exhort the cardinal electors not to allow themselves to be guided, in choosing the Pope, by friendship or aversion, or to be influenced by favor or personal relationships towards anyone, or to be constrained by the interference of persons in authority or by pressure groups, by the suggestions of the mass media, or by force, fear or the pursuit of popularity. Rather, having before their eyes solely the glory of God and the good of the Church, and having prayed for divine assistance, they shall give their vote to the person, even outside the College of Cardinals, who in their judgment is most suited to govern the universal Church in a fruitful and beneficial way."
Thus the cardinal electors have on their conscience that very job during a conclave to elect the best possible candidate for the supreme office of pope.
For the most part, the inspirations of the Holy Spirit has led the cardinals to elect the best man possible, although some would beg to differ. After all, it is possible.
In any one conclave there will be a certain number of
”papabili” candidates in a papal election, but the Holy Spirit can bring about huge surprises in the choice that the cardinal electors decide on.
Occasionally a Pope may even hint as to his choice of candidate.
When Pope Pius XII was elected pope, it seemed to be the absolute best choice in light of the Second World War. He was soft-spoken diplomat and was the Apostolic Nuncio in Germany from 1920-1929. Pacelli was made a Cardinal-Priest of Santi Giovanni e Paolo on 16 December 1929 by Pope Pius XI, and within a few months, on 7 February 1930, Pius XI appointed him Cardinal Secretary of State, responsible for foreign policy and state relations throughout the world. In 1935, Pacelli was named Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church.
Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli was seeming groomed to be the war time Roman Pontiff.
Pacelli was heavily favored among the cardinals to win. Pius XI had hinted that he favored Pacelli as his successor. On 15 December 1937, during his last consistory, Pius XI strongly hinted to the cardinals that he expected Pacelli to be his successor, saying "He is in your midst." He had previously been quoted as saying: "When today the Pope dies, you'll get another one tomorrow, because the Church continues. It would be a much bigger tragedy, if Cardinal Pacelli dies, because there is only one. I pray every day, God may send another one into one of our seminaries, but as of today, there is only one in this world."
Like Pius X, Pius XI had been a blunt-spoken, no-nonsense pontiff.
Assembling in 1939 as the outbreak of hostilities that became World War II was widely anticipated, the cardinals turned to a soft-spoken diplomat. - 1939 papal conclave
Pope Pius XI also had a mysterious atmosphere surrounding his election as Supreme Pontiff.
In the consistory of 3 June 1921, Pope Benedict XV created three new cardinals, including Ratti, who was appointed Archbishop of Milan simultaneously. The pope joked with them, saying, "Well, today I gave you the red hat, but soon it will be white for one of you." After the Vatican celebration, Ratti went to the Benedictine monastery at Monte Cassino for a retreat to prepare spiritually for his new role. He accompanied Milanese pilgrims to Lourdes in August 1921. Ratti received a tumultuous welcome on a visit to his home town Desio, and was enthroned in Milan on 8 September. On 22 January 1922, Pope Benedict XV died unexpectedly of pneumonia.
At the conclave to choose a new pope, which proved to be the longest of the 20th century, the College of Cardinals was divided into two factions, one led by Rafael Merry del Val favoring the policies and style of Pope Pius X and the other favoring those of Pope Benedict XV led by Pietro Gasparri.
Gasparri approached Ratti before voting began on the third day and told him he would urge his supporters to switch their votes to Ratti, who was shocked to hear this. When it became clear that neither Gasparri nor del Val could win, the cardinals approached Ratti, thinking him a compromise candidate not identified with either faction. Cardinal Gaetano de Lai approached Ratti and was believed to have said: "We will vote for Your Eminence if Your Eminence will promise that you will not choose Cardinal Gasparri as your secretary of state". Ratti is said to have responded: "I hope and pray that among so highly deserving cardinals the Holy Spirit selects someone else. If I am chosen, it is indeed Cardinal Gasparri whom I will take to be my secretary of state".
Ratti was elected pope on the conclave's fourteenth ballot on 6 February 1922 and took the name "Pius XI", explaining that Pius IX was the pope of his youth and Pius X had appointed him head of the appointed him head of the Vatican Library. It was rumoured that immediately after the election, he decided to appoint Pietro Gasparri as his Cardinal Secretary of State. - Elevation to the papacy of Pope Pius XI