Posts tagged with: Sistine Chapel

The conclave to elect a new pope began today in Rome.  Guy Dinmore and Giulia Segreti from the Financial Times describe the first day:

Cardinals sequestered in the Sistine chapel held their first vote to choose the 266th pope to lead the Roman Catholic church but black smoke emerging from their burnt ballot papers on Tuesday night signalled no one had secured the two-thirds majority needed for election.

The search for a successor to Benedict XVI, who last month became the first pontiff to abdicate in nearly 600 years, will continue on Wednesday with up to four rounds of voting.

In a ceremony combining pageantry and religious solemnity adapted over the centuries, the 115 voting cardinals took their oaths of secrecy in Latin after chanting their way into Michelangelo’s frescoed chapel, windows obscured and swept for electronic devices. Its doors were then closed and locked, and the princes of the church will remain cut off from the world, spending their nights in a nearby Vatican residence, until a winner emerges.

Regarding the color of the smoke, Rev. Robert Sirico points out that,

… white smoke signifying an elected pope would have been highly unlikely on the first day. Cardinals would next analyse which candidates have emerged with a following.

[Sirico] hazarded that Italy’s Angelo Scola and Marc Ouellet of Canada might have obtained around 40 votes each. Cardinals Odilo Scherer of Brazil and Sean O’Malley of Boston might have taken “a smaller amount.”

The full article is available here, but registration may be required to access it.

The conclave to elect the new pope is scheduled to begin tomorrow afternoon after the public Missa pro Eligendo Pontifice (Mass for the Election of the Roman Pontiff) which is scheduled at 10am Rome time.   It was at this mass in 2005 after the death of John Paul II that the then Cardinal Ratizinger famously spoke of the “dictatorship of relativism.”   At 4:30 pm Rome time, the cardinals wearing full choir dress will enter the Sistine Chapel singing the hymn Veni Creator Spiritus (Come Holy Spirit).  Cardinals will enter into conclave (from the Latin cum clave, meaning “with key”) and they will be locked away from the world with no access to television, newspapers, or mobile phones until they have elected the new pope.

As the Conclave gets underway and the world waits to see who will be the next pope, here are some helpful hints for making your way through the media storm that is already underway.

1. The papal election is not a U.S.- or European-style political event.

In our hyper politicized world where almost everything is reduced to politics it is hard for our imagination to process a public event like the election of a new pope outside of the structures of politics.  That’s not to say there’s no politics in the Church.  There’s too much of it.  Way too much. And it’s always a factor.  Nevertheless trying to understand the papal election if the light of the American political system or interest and lobbying groups will not be of much help. (more…)

Blog author: rsirico
posted by on Monday, March 11, 2013

Here’s a curious tidbit regarding the fumata, the white or black smoke that will rise from the Sistine Chapel’’s chimney signaling whether a pope has been elected or not.

“It is sometimes hard to distinguish the actual color of the smoke, such as in 2005”. Back then, I knew for sure there was a successful vote for pope when I saw the fumata in the middle of the afternoon session, even though it was difficult to tell if it was white or black.

Here’s why. Cardinals cast two ballots in the morning and another two ballots in the afternoon. However, if a pope is successfully elected after the first of the two ballots, then their votes are burned and white chemicals are added to report a positive outcome. “Otherwise, they wait to burn both ballots all in one fumata.

At the very end of the morning or afternoon the smoke can be white or black. But if we see the fumata mid-morning or mid-afternoon, then it has to be white for a successful election.

ROME — For all the ‘Vaticanisti’ (journalists specializing in the Vatican) sitting around Rome and interviewing one another for the last several weeks, the wholesale consumption of high blood pressure medication took a precipitous drop on the announcement Friday afternoon that the Conclave to elect the new pope would occur on Tuesday, March 12, one day later than I had predicted several weeks ago.  Now is the lull before the storm. A Mass praying for the election of the pope will be followed by the first voting session of the Conclave in the early evening.

With many media outlets waiting for that date to be announced, the remaining hotel rooms left in Rome will be gobbled up, and by Monday evening we can expect an influx of the rest of the 5000 journalists accredited to the Holy See to cover the event.

It is difficult not to compare the lead up to this Conclave to the last one I had the opportunity to witness eight years ago.  Then, of course, one of the monumental figures of the twentieth century had passed from the scene after a long and highly visible bout with Parkinson’s disease.  By the time I had arrived to provide commentary at the BBC location above St. Peter’s Square, the body of John Paul II was being translated (an elegant way of saying the body was ‘moved’) from the Apostolic Palace where the pope lived and died, to beneath the Bernini colonnades in the center of St. Peter’s Basilica. It was a slow, mournful and moving sight.  By the time the body of the Polish pope was laid in state at the foot of the papal altar lines, long line, began forming down boulevard leading to the basilica.  The crowds would grow in the following days to estimates ranging from three to four million pilgrims to pay the last respects the John Paul II. (more…)