Italy TravelFun Facts About The Papal Conclave in Vatican City

Fun Facts About The Papal Conclave in Vatican City
Published on Wednesday, March 13, 2013 by

sistine-chapelAll eyes are on Vatican City in Rome — and specifically the chimney leading from the Sistine Chapel — to see if a new Pope has been elected. 115 cardinals are locked away in the chapel, voting on the leader of over a billion Catholics. Here are some fun facts about the Conclave:

  • In the 13th century, Pope Gregory put the rule into effect that cardinals must be sequestered to elect a Pope. This is because it took three years to elect him.
  • The word “conclave” originates from the Latin phrase cum clave, meaning “without key.”  The cardinals are locked in.
  • The cardinals are allowed no contact with the outside world – under threat of excommunication.
  • The cardinals are staying in a 130-room guest house  Domus Sanctae Marthae (St Martha’s House) on the grounds of Vatican City.
  • The cardinals hold one vote on the first day and then two each morning and afternoon until a candidate wins a two-thirds majority. Here is their schedule.
  • When the cardinals write the name of their candidate for Pope, they are asked to disquise their handwriting. They are then asked to fold the ballot into thirds.
  • Three cardinals count the photos and then sew up the counted ballots and burn them. Black smoke, of course, means no Pope has been chosen by white means the Pope has been chosen.

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Photo by chwye,

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