— Cardinals from around the world will head to Rome to take part in a
procedure known as a conclave. The group, known as the College of
Cardinals, will stay in the Casa di Santa Marta—a $20-million
hotel-style residence inside the Vatican walls—and won’t leave the
Vatican grounds until the new pope has been selected.
—All electors must be under the age of 80, leaving 118 cardinals eligible to take part out of a total of 210.
— The conclave will take place behind closed doors in the Vatican’s famous Sistine Chapel.
— The first ballot may be held on the first afternoon of the conclave,
after morning Mass. After that, the conclave will hold two ballots in
the morning and two ballots in the afternoon until a pope is elected.
— After each voting round, tradition dictates that the ballots are bound
together and burned in a special oven erected temporarily inside the
chapel. The smoke rising from the Sistine Chapel’s chimney signals to
the expectant faithful in St. Peter’s Square the outcome of the vote.
— If the smoke is black (an effect produced by a chemical compound burned
along with the ballots), it means that no candidate has achieved the
two-thirds majority needed to win – and another round of balloting will
take place. If the smoke is white, a new pope has been elected.
— A senior cardinal then takes to the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica to
announce, in Latin: “Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum. Habemus papam.”
Which translates as, “I announce to you news of great joy. We have a
— The new pope will be free to take any name he chooses. Some new popes
honor a favorite saint or a pope they admire, while others honor their