Inside the Sistine Chapel frescoed by Michelangelo Buonarroti the cardinals gather in the conclave to elect the new Pope.

The Sacred College of Cardinals votes several times until the Pope is elected.

Once the Cardinals were literally locked up in the Sistine Chapel until the election took place and this could be a problem since in the thirteenth century, it took almost three years to elect a successor to Pope Clement IV.

Today things are different and the cardinals, after the voting takes place in the Sistine Chapel, stay a short distance away in the nearby Casa di Santa Maria.

The first conclave held in the Sistine Chapel was in 1492; since 1878 it has been the permanent seat of every conclave.

When the Pope is elected, the crowds of faithful wait in St Peter’s Square to see the smoke: white or black? If it is black it means that the Cardinals have not yet elected the Pope. White smoke in case of Habemus Papam.

The Conclave during which the Pope is elected in the Sistine Chapel

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