Gavin Maclure's Musings

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Black smoke seen over the Sistine Chapel

Cardinals convene for the Papal Conclave before the doors were shut to the outside world

Cardinals convene for the Papal Conclave inside the Sistine Chapel

The 115 Cardinals who have today been ensconced in the magnificent surroundings of the Sistine Chapel have undertaken the single vote allowed on Day 1 of the Papal Conclave, which, as expected, has failed to choose the next Pope.

Black smoke blew from the special chimney erected on the roof of the Sistine Chapel indicating one Cardinal present did not have two-thirds of the vote.

The Cardinals have now returned to their hotel within Vatican City, especially built by Benedict XVI, to accommodate all Cardinals under 80 who can vote in a Conclave. They will return to the Sistine Chapel in the morning.

Tomorrow and every forthcoming day of the Conclave (if more days are required), the Cardinals will vote twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon until one of their numbers has 77 votes or more. Security is very tight. The Chapel was swept for listening and visual devices before the Conclave, telephones are banned and mobile phone jamming devices are in use by Vatican security.

We will know when the next Pope is elected when white smoke is seen from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel accompanied by the pealing of the bells of St Peter’s. If the candidate accepts, he will then become the next Pope and leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.